Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as she sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground [...] and when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.
— Mark 4.3-8

Day 20


We're HALFWAY to the finish line!!!!!! 

Given the 1,032 marchers we have, and our email open-rate and site visitations, I estimate that so far we have scattered over 30,000 seeds of love and action these past 20 days together!

Can you imagine the positive change that is beginning to grow and spread because of our small seeds? And remember: no worries if you haven't been able to scatter every day. We do what we can, and you're always welcome back on the march because every marcher, every step, every seed, counts!

Seed of Inspiration


Each Thursday, in honor of "Throwback Thursday" and Women's History Month, we'll bring you a biography of a "seedy" woman of history of whom it can be said: "nevertheless, she persisted."  The following excerpt is redacted from Wikipedia. Yes, wikipedia. You can read the full bio by clicking the previous link.

Photo of Zitkála Šá in profile, by Gertrude Käsebier 1897, Public Domain.

Photo of Zitkála Šá in profile, by Gertrude Käsebier 1897, Public Domain.

Zitkála-Šá (1876–1938) (Lakota: pronounced zitkála-ša, which translates to "Red Bird"), also known by the missionary-given name Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, was a Sioux (Yankton Dakota) writer, editor, musician, teacher and political activist. She wrote several works chronicling her youthful struggles with identity and pulls between the majority culture and her Native American heritage. Her later books in English were among the first works to bring traditional Native American stories to a widespread white readership.

Working with American William F. Hanson, Zitkala-Ša wrote the libretto and songs for The Sun Dance Opera, (1913), the first American Indian opera. 

She was a co-founder of the National Council of American Indians in 1926 to lobby for rights to United States citizenship and civil rights. Zitkala-Ša served as its president until her death in 1938. Her life has been recorded in the biography Red Bird, Red Power: The Life and Legacy of Zitkála-Šá (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016).

Early life and education

Zitkála-Šá was born on February 22, 1876 on the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota. She was raised by her mother, Ellen Simmons, whose Dakota name was Thaté Iyóhiwiŋ (Every Wind or Reaches for the Wind). Her father was a European-American man named Felker, who abandoned the family while Zitkala-Ša was very young.

For her first eight years, Zitkála-Šá lived on the reservation. She later described those days as ones of freedom and happiness, safe in the care of her mother's people and tribe. In 1884, when Zitkala-Ša was eight, missionaries came to the Yankton Reservation. They recruited several of the Yankton children, including Zitkala-Šá, taking them for education to the White's Manual Labor Institute, a boarding school in Wabash, Indiana. This training school was founded by Quaker Josiah White for the education of "poor children, white, colored, and Indian," with the goal of helping them advance in society.

Zitkála-Šá attended the school for three years until 1887. She later wrote about this period in her work, The School Days of an Indian Girl. She described both the deep misery of having her heritage stripped away, when she was forced to pray as a Quaker and cut her traditionally long hair, and the contrasting joy of learning to read and write, and to play the violin.

In 1887 Zitkála-Šá returned to the Yankton Reservation to live with her mother. She spent three years there. She was dismayed to realize that, while she still longed for the native Sioux traditions, she no longer fully belonged to them. In addition, she thought that many on the reservation were conforming to the dominant white culture.

In 1891, wanting more education, Zitkála-Šá decided at age fifteen to return to White's Manual Labor Institute. She planned to gain more through education than becoming a house-keeper, as the school anticipated girls would do. She studied piano and violin, and started to teach music at White's when the teacher resigned. In 1895 Zitkala-Sa was awarded her first diploma. She gave a speech on women's inequality, which received high praise from the local paper.

Though her mother wanted her to return home after graduation, Zitkála-Šá decided to attend Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, where she received a scholarship in 1895. Higher education for women was quite limited at the time. Though initially feeling isolated and uncertain among her predominantly white peers, she soon proved her oratorical talents again with a speech entitled "Side by Side" in 1896. During this time, she began gathering Native American legends, translating them first to Latin and then to English for children to read. In 1897, however, six weeks before graduation, she was forced to leave Earlham College due to ill health.

Zitkala-Ša with her violin in 1898, public domain.

Zitkala-Ša with her violin in 1898, public domain.

From 1897 to 1899 Zitkala-Ša played violin with the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. In 1899 she took a position at Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, where she taught music to the children and conducted debates on the treatment of Native Americans. In 1900 she played violin at the Paris Exposition with the school's Carlisle Indian Band. In the same year she began writing articles on Native American life, which were published in such national periodicals as Atlantic Monthly and Harper's Monthly. Also in 1900 Zitkala-Ša was sent by Carlisle's founder, Colonel Richard Henry Pratt, to the Yankton Reservation for the first time in several years to recruit students.

She was greatly dismayed to find that her mother's house was in disrepair, her brother's family had fallen into poverty, and that white settlers were beginning to occupy lands allotted to the Yankton Dakota under the Dawes Act of 1877. Upon returning to the Carlisle School, she came into conflict with its founder, as she resented his rigid program of assimilation into dominant white culture and the limitations of the curriculum. It prepared Native American children only for low-level work, assuming they would return to rural cultures. In 1901 Zitkala-Ša was dismissed. That year she had published an article in Harper's Monthly describing the profound loss of identity felt by a Native American boy after undergoing the assimilationist education at the school.

Concerned with her mother's advanced age and her family's struggles with poverty, she returned to the Yankton Reservation in 1901.

Marriage and family

In 1901 Zitkála-Šá began collecting stories from Native Americans on the reservation to publish in Old Indian Legends, commissioned by the Boston publisher Ginn and Company. She took a job as a clerk at the Bureau of Indian Affairs at Standing Rock Indian Reservation. In 1902 she met and married Captain Raymond Talefase Bonnin; also culturally Yankton, he was mixed-race, with one-quarter Yankton Dakota ancestry. Soon after their marriage, Captain Bonnin was assigned to the Uintah-Ouray reservation in Utah. The couple lived and worked there with the Ute for the next fourteen years. During this period, Zitkala-Ša gave birth to the couple's only son, Raymond Ohiya Bonnin.

    Making of an opera

    In 1910 Zitkala-Ša began collaborating with American composer William F. Hanson, who taught at Brigham Young University. She wrote the libretto and songs. She also played Sioux melodies on the violin, and Hanson used this as the basis of his music composition.

    In February 1913, the premiere performance of The Sun Dance Opera was presented at Orpheus Hall in Vernal, Utah. The production featured members of the Ute Nation, who lived on the nearby Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. It was significant in its shift from Native American oral musical tradition to a written one. Its debut was met with critical acclaim. Few works of Native American opera have dealt with Native American themes so exclusively since.

    In 1938 the New York Light Opera Guild premiered The Sun Dance Opera at The Broadway Theatre as its opera of the year. Its publicity credited only William F. Hanson as composer.

    Political activism

    Zitkala-Sa, as photographed by Joseph Keiley in 1901. Public Domain.

    Zitkala-Sa, as photographed by Joseph Keiley in 1901. Public Domain.

    Zitkála-Šá was highly politically active throughout most of her adult life. During her time on the Uintah-Ouray reservation in Utah, she joined the Society of American Indians, a progressive group formed in 1911. It was dedicated to preserving the Native American way of life while lobbying for the right to full American citizenship. Zitkala-Ša served as the SAI's secretary beginning in 1916. She edited its journal American Indian Magazine from 1918 to 1919. [...]

    As the secretary for the SAI, Zitkála-Šá corresponded on its behalf with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She began to criticize the practices of the BIA, such as their attempt to prohibit Native American children from using their native languages and cultural practices at the national boarding schools. She reported incidents of abuse resulting from children's refusal to pray in the Christian manner. Her husband was dismissed from his BIA office at the Ute reservation in 1916. The couple and their son relocated to Washington D.C, where they thought to find allies.

    From Washington, Zitkála-Šá began lecturing nationwide on behalf of the SAI to promote the cultural and tribal identity of Native Americans. During the 1920s she promoted a pan-Indian movement to unite all of America's tribes in the cause of lobbying for citizenship rights. In 1924 the Indian Citizenship Act was passed, granting US citizenship rights to many though not all indigenous peoples.

    In 1926 she and her husband founded the National Council of American Indians, dedicated to the cause of uniting the tribes throughout the U.S. in the cause of gaining full citizenship rights through suffrage. From 1926 until her death in 1938, Zitkala-Ša would serve as president, major fundraiser, and speaker for the NCAI. She was the major figure in those years. Her early work was largely disregarded when the organization was revived in 1944 under male leadership.

    Zitkála-Šá was also active in the 1920s in the movement for women's rights, joining the General Federation of Women's Clubs in 1921. It was a grassroots organization dedicated to diversity in its membership and to maintaining a public voice for women's concerns. Through the GFWC she created the Indian Welfare Committee in 1924. She catalyzed a government investigation into the exploitation of Native Americans in Oklahoma and the attempts being made to defraud them of drilling rights to their oil-rich lands. Zitkala-Ša was co-author of "Oklahoma's Poor Rich Indians: An Orgy of Graft and Exploitation of the Five Civilized Tribe-Legalized Robbery". The article exposed several corporations that had robbed and even murdered Native Americans in Oklahoma to gain access to their lands. Its influence contributed to Congressional passage of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 under the President Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. [...]

    In her work for the NCAI in 1924, Zitkála-Šá ran a voter-registration drive among Native Americans. She encouraged them to support the Curtis Bill, which she believed would be favorable for Indians. Though the bill granted Native Americans US citizenship, it did not grant those living on reservations with the right to vote in local and state elections. Zitkala-Ša continued to work for civil rights, and better access to health care and education for Native Americans up until her death in 1938.

    Her Writings

    • Old Indian Legends. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1985
    • American Indian Stories. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1985.
    • Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Bonnin). "Why I Am a Pagan." The Online Archive of Nineteenth-Century U.S. Women's Writings, Ed. Glynis Carr. Winter 1999.
    • Zitkála-Šá, Fabens, Charles H. and Matthew K. Sniffen. Oklahoma’s Poor Rich Indians: An Orgy of Graft and Exploitation of the Five Civilized Tribes, Legalized Robbery. Philadelphia: Office of the Indian Rights Association, 1924.
    • Zitkála-Šá. Dreams and Thunder: Stories, Poems, and The Sun Dance Opera. Edited by P. Jane Hafen. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8032-4918-7.

    Seed of Action


    On February 8, following a directive from President Donald Trump to the Department of the Army and the Army Corps, Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. announced that Dakota Access received an easement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct a pipeline across land owned by the Army Corps on both sides of Lake Oahe in North Dakota. This pipeline is not online an unnecessary backstep into fossel fuel dependence, but it threatens the drinking water of several tribal nations, and violates sacred burial grounds near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, where Zitkála-Šá once worked.

    There are 37 major banks funding the Dakota Access Pipeline. And today, in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington, we are taking their suggestions quoted below on ways we might begin to divest from DAPL and/or encourage divestment if it is not possible for ourselves:

    According to, over $66 million dollars have been divested from DAPL - and counting. [Just yesterday, ING, Inc. announced that it has divested from DAPL due to consumer pressure.] The Women’s March is inspired by the incredible Water Protectors at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation’s Sacred Stone Camp, and the powerful divestment movement supporting their work. We are committed to the rights, liberation, and sovereignty of Indigenous people and First Nations, as well as the cause of environmental justice. We call on our supporters to join us as we participate in the movement to #DefundDAPL.  


    Wells Fargo, Citibank (CitiGroup), JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, HSBC Bank, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, SunTrust, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho Bank, TD Securities, Credit Agricole, Intesa SanPaolo, Natixis, BayernLB, BBVA Securities, DNB Capital, ICBC London, SMBC Nikko Securities, Societe Generale, Royal Bank of Scotland, ABN Amro Capital, Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), Citizens Bank, Comerica Bank, U.S. Bank, Barclays, Compass Bank, Credit Suisse, DNB Capital/ASA, Sumitomo Mitsui Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, and UBS

    Sources: Food and Water Watch conducted an investigation into the banks invested in and funding the Dakota Access Pipeline. See the investigation here, and a helpful data visualization here.


    We ask you to divest from the banks (above) funding the DAPL and instead to move your money to regional banks. Defund DAPL provides an excellent blueprint for personal divestment. We have laid out some of that information below, but encourage you to use the Defund DAPL website as well - especially to track our collective progress!

    NationallyCommunity Development Bankers Association


    If Individual Divestment is NOT Financially or Physically Possible:

    We understand that not everyone will be able to partake in this action. Here are alternative ways to participate in #DivestDAPL:

    • Divest your City: Seattle just ended its $3 billion relationship with Wells Fargo and became the first City in the United States to divest itself from the Dakota Access Pipeline. Push your city to do the same. The Defund DAPL Seattle Action Coalition has created a how-to guide for city divestment. Get started here!
    • Contact your bank: Consumer satisfaction matters. Call your bank and the CEOs of the financial institutions your money is tied to. Call every day. Tweet every day. Send letters every day. Make sure your bank knows how you feel about their investment in DAPL.
    • Defund DAPL has provided a list with contact information for the executives of the 37 banks.
    • Use the hashtags #DivestDAPL, #DefundDAPL, and  #NoDAPL.
    • Educate yourself on Indigenous people’s movements and on the intersection of environmental and racial justice. Here are some great places to start:
    • #StandingRockSyllabus: A thorough collection of resources that explains the contemporary struggle at Standing Rock and its broader historical, political and social context.
    • A message from the Water Protectors on the front lines at Standing Rock.
    • Indian Country Today: A national platform for Native voices and issues. Indian Country Today also offers free reports in addition to news and culture updates.
    • Why Greenpeace Speaks Out on Racial Justice: A statement from Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard.
    • 3 Ways Racial and Environmental Justice Are Connected: Greenpeace’s response to and endorsement of M4BL’s Vision for Black Lives.
    • It’s Not Mother Nature Who’s Racist: A podcast episode from Intersection about Hurricane Katrina and environmental racism.

    Love Notes

    • Thank you to everyone who has already submitted their favorite songs for our Brave Feminist Playlist! You can still submit songs all this week by emailing them to, adding them to our youtube playlist by following this link and clicking the button at the top right that says "Add Videos," or commenting on our Facebook post. We'll post the final playlist in next week's seeds, so stay tuned!

    • Share you seeds! Take and share a photo of yourself outside your bank holding a sign declaring that you’ve divested from DAPL, using the hashtags #DefundDAPL and #DivestDAPL! Or share a video or boomerang of you cutting up your credit cards affiliated with these banks, using the hashtags #DefundDAPL and #DivestDAPL! You can also always use the tag #SeedsToScatter!

    • And above all, scatter with love.

    Day 21

    Day 19