Zitkala Sa, Sioux Indian and activist

In addition to photographing the Sioux performers sent by Buffalo Bill Cody to her studio, Käsebier was able to arrange a portrait session with Zitkala-sa, "Red Bird," also known as Gertrude Simmons (1876-1938), a Yankton Sioux woman of Native American and white ancestry. She was born on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, like many of the Sioux traveling with the Wild West show. She was educated at reservation schools, the Carlisle Indian School, Earlham College in Indiana, and the Boston Conservatory of Music. Zitkala-sa became an accomplished author, musician, composer, and dedicated worker for the reform of United States Indian policies.
Käsebier photographed Zitkala-sa in tribal dress and western clothing, clearly identifying the two worlds in which this woman lived and worked. In many of the images, Zitkala-sa holds her violin or a book, further indicating her interests. Käsebier experimented with backdrops, including a Victorian floral print, and photographic printing. She used the painterly gum-bichromate process for several of these images, adding increased texture and softer tones to the photographs.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
ca 1898
Kasebier, Gertrude
Physical Description
platinum print (overall material)
paper (overall material)
overall: 16.5 cm x 10.5 cm; 6 1/2 in x 4 1/8 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Gertrude Kasebier
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Gertrude Kasebier
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Delaney, Michelle. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Warriors: A Photographic History by Gertrude Kasebier

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