AUGUST 1901 -

11 August 1901Yankton, S. D.Wednesday night

Dear Montezuma,

Please don't get cross with me for then you will lose control of me entirely.I have had a difficult summer with a cranky old woman by the merest accident, 
my mother.I have just exactly all I can bear and a while more would make jump the fences all together.I have felt pretty nigh(?) desperate more times than my pride would permit my telling.I can stand a great deal, just so much but not a grain beyond a certain measure.

And I will tell you, the measure is already full and well pressed to the rim.this very night that I right, I have been needlessly tortured by Mother's crazy tongue till all hell seems set loose upon my heels, and I feel wicked enough to kill her on the spot or else run wild.

You sensible folk whose nerves are cast iron and are not susceptible to the influence of others' idiosyncrasies have not sufficient imagination to know how excruiciatily(sic) painful it is to a sensitive wretch to have to "grin and bear" all the yelping ferosity (sic) of human brutes.The only thought I an capable of is "I must clear out of sight."

Where am I to go or when, what I am to do know one knows, nor do I.



[15 August 1901]Thursday

My friend,

I write to say Mr. Nichols suddenly materialized here; and has placed me in the most trying situation, all unintentionally.

I have made a contract with my publishers for my work, and I am obliged to write every day from morning to night in order to meet my obligations.Now Mr. N. has come unannounced.I have had no opportunity to enjoy buggy and horse as this is hay making season and every available man and horse are in the field.I cannot leave my work, nor neglect Mr. N. who is very much of a stranger to the object ofthe Agency life!What can I do!I am worried beyond words, totally in fit, for work or hostess!I have advised Mr. N. to return from here to Chicago as it seems to me fool hardy totramp across the country, penniless, without guide or interpreter, with no credentials nor influence.

I regret his lack of penetration which has forced me to speak very plain English to him.His primitive way of doing good is a hard set against his theory.I want to help any earnest person but I have no time to waste!

I am incensed (sic) at his having had no consideration for my time.Every hour is worth a great deal to a worker like me, and it is mighty high robbery out right to infringe upon my time.At least he might have written asking me to plan according to my convenience, but No!

[15 August 1901 p. 2]

Now everything is upset to no pleasant purpose, and I am half enraged at such blundering.I have little patience left.But I am trying to be kind, at least.If we are working for a cause, let it be straight and wholly unmixed with egotism! personality!conceit!sentimentality and every other like non sense.This is what Mr. N. will report me as having said in a bear-tongue, so I warn you first.

As for our former relation, I have nothing to say.It is gone.But I will be as good a friend to [you] as I can, if you permit me to be.If not then this is the last letter.



August 21, 1901 (in z's script)

So you, who ventured comment upon a brief courtship, can scarce hold outone prolonged?You were hurt because the ring was returned; and so soon would have given up the pursuit?

Where is your determination which dauntlessly wins whatever you chose to seek?and if you were hurt, remember I was before you, so misery was not alone yours.Perhaps Mr. N. has written you of a ruby ring I wear.Your silence added fuel to my fire and there!I told you fairly in the start that you were not alone in the race.You say you love me.Others boast the same.How shall I know which is deepest, wisest and genuine?

But at last I have concluded to try you once again.You may rreturn my ring is so it pleases you.However I shall not be able to go to Arizona.You go alone, and when you return we shall come to some more definate point.Montezuma, you had better not wait too long to answer this letter.See?

Sincerely, indeed


mailed to Carlos Montezuma M.D.

3158 S. Park St.

Chicago, Ill

from Zitkala-Sa

Yankton Agency, South Dakota

post-marked Greenwood, S.D. Aug 22, 1901

Friday {30 August 1901]

Dear Montezuma,

I write in hastd.Have just returned from the prairie abd find here your welcome letters and the box.I must catch the stage.Tomarrow U wukk write you a letter.Miss Nichols has wired anxiously after her brother and I make a reply there also in a flying hurry.

All well, even the light-headed boy, though I did not see him.




Saturday [31 August 1901]

Dear Montezuma

I played Bridge(?) yesterday and feel rather queer and stiff today.

No, I have failed to write since Mr. N's arrival.I have not seen him for over a week, but my work has been so broken into that I have given it up.

My motherf and Mr. N. together have played havoc with my work this summer.The result is I have done nothing!Oh yes, I did correct the proof sheets for my book but that was all.

Now I must insist once again upon your securing the posotion of agency physician in some Sioux country.I say this on my mother's account.I simply cannot leave her out of my plans without feeling like a crimminal as she cannot help herself; and my brothers are even more selfish than I am.If you cannot comply then we shall postpone the day whileI teach here and take care of my mother.

Montezuma, I think you are making a poor bargain with me.You should have given me up and thanked your lucky stars for a narrow escape.If we marry, it will be whrn you have carried out my wish, not before it is (too) late--while my mother lives.What do you say to that?



4 September, 1901

Dear Monteuma,

Why do you always take so much for granted and do things on impulse?You are arranging your furniture in the house and doing things in the most assured manner upon my "reconsideration" which is not a promise one way or another as yet.Without wishing to hurt you, I confess I feel too selfish to assume such stern responsibilities till this morning.I do not want to marry anyone.I do not know hurt alone, though I may try to be sincere in my dealings with individuals.I think I prefer to work alone as I have done hither to.

Doctor, don't love me.Just consider my lack of love and pity me.Just be a good strong friend to one.Don't write to me about myself, that is a dry subject.Let time work its result.I have received both boxes.Give me plenty of time for my final decision.And then whatever it is, I'lll try to abide by it, ever after.

Mr. N. has killed my interest in the organization and has unfitted me to work on my stories.Things are dead for awhile, in which time I am considering many problems.I think if the Department would offer me a position I would accept it.Col. Pratt has used his pull agianst me because My thinking is not his thinking, nor my ways, his ways!and just the hate of him (?) me to work again even when I would most like to fold me hands.

The mind is churning a perfect hurricane without and its counterpart is no less outline within my consciousness.Strange this bit of consciousness in me which must ever be,--even at the risk of disagreeing with a world of pigmy men.Even at the risk of being wrongly judged.

Luck to you on your Arizona trip!


30 September 1901Andrews, S. D.

Dear Montezuma,

I was asked to substitute as teacher in a district school for the month of October.So here I am much to my own surprise.It does seem odd enough to get into the old harness.

I board in my cousin's home.Martha Bain and Alice Cooper are both home.It is very pleasant for me to have them in the same house.Lucy, the one I have written you concerning housing, is gone East.I miss her much for she was my shum.This monday should have been a school day, but the house is undergoing repairs so I have a day off!The little school house stands on the plain, aabout a mile and a half from my boarding place.I expect to walk in fair weather.

It is a relief to have work to do, where we must move about, both feet forwards!

I trust you are finding pleasure beyond your anticipation.Please do not mention my mother to me any more.That subject is dropped.I am well.

May the Great Spirit guard and protect you.



Saturday 1:30 A. M.[19 October 1901]

Dear friend,

I Have been to a reception and upon my return, am trying to catch up on my Eastern correspondence.While there is no news to say, I've neglected.Excuse pencil but my pen is dry.

What makes you assume the supposition that I was going to marry you in November?Did I not brake up all the old plans?I have only reconsidered the case, as yet giving you no definate reply.Yet you write [to me] ? positive letters that I'd like to (?) you with the --not intent of the (?) ?

I am well.I do not wish any financial aid.i do not come to you this month nor any other, for the simple reason of our non-congenial temperments.I have a friend out here who claims all I can give by the laws of natural affinity.In a few days I shall return your ring to you.

There I've written plainly because you have made me cross.If in my openness there is anyhting to forgive, I beg you to do it.I canalways respect you a s a friend, but never more.

Let me wish you success in your chosen world and work.Mine lies in places "barren and foreign" to your acquired taste.



[10 January 1902]Geenwood S. D. postmark

If you were so sure you were my superior; that I am a fake, do not resent losing so worthless an acquiantance.

I feel sorry for you that your own indiscretion centered your regaured upon such a wretch as I am!(God is my only judge!)He knows me and my struggles better than my best and truest and mortal friend!In His eyes I would be doing you a greater wrong to marry you than to have done as I have.Do no think I made my reply in a trifling mood, for there are (?) sources by the way; and it was nto the easiest thing I've done.So live up to my best judgement.Do not feel reckless and regretful!Give as in your brave way.Give up your highest conception of God's creatures.I am striving but oh deart, it is hard--so hard-- I wish sometimes that I was dead.


Blessed are those who live again.(6 word illegible)

So is the time a whole nation then assume their natural talents is potend (sic) to be great.But this outing has to become (?) of it yet.

sent to : Carlos Montezuma

100 State StChicago, Ill

Reliance Bdg.(his office)

Fort TottenWednesday Night the small wee hours[15 June, 1901?]

Dearest heart of hearts,

This afternoon I surely expected word form you.It was a disappointment when none came.You are busy I know.Then I do not deserve much,Well

. Well.I have come here in a trying time.There is a lound clamor for the discharge of the school superintendent.An Inspector is daily expected.

I am royally treated!The agency and agency phycician have arranged to entertain me between them.The whole day I have been with the agent's party riding about the Indian lands.I like the agent and his wife very, very much.Oh but I am so sleepy, and you owe me so many letters I must close.



(this is before Mr. Dixon get to Fort Totten)

Saturday evening[25 January 1902]Greenwood, S. D. postmark

(no greeting)

It is nearly six by the clock when I shall have to stop to go to supper but I wished to write a letter to you.

This has been one of our real cold days withasnowflake as hard as a piece of ice.The wind blows in at the window so much that I have not felt very warm.

The winter with one cold sap has been so milk that I rather resent the cold weather now.Especially upon this particular Saturday as I had planned to take a long drive to see a sick woman.By the way, I have not told you that a two year old baby (whose mother was an old school chum of mine--who has recently died)is offered to me.It was Souse's (?) dying request.Her husband invites me to visit the old home to tsee the child at least.He said he would send a check upon returned mail, if I would write that I would go.

The matter has weighed heavily upon my mind.Finally after many haltings I have decided not to accept such a care when I have my old mother already on my shoulders.Still I wish I had been able to give my time to such a task.That would mean my giving up my writing; and that is out of the question.

Montezuma, I am going to ask a favor of you.I noticed last spring in Boston some corsely woven stuff (Brown with Japanese dragons printed on it) which was quite inexpensive and used a great deal by people in summer cottages and the like.I wish you would look around and if you find anything like it, have the store to forward samples and prices to my address.I have a notion to try to fix mother's cottage a little cozy.Then I may not have to bum around so much.

25 January 1902 p. 2

At the present I have a room in the hotel.The people of the place are exceedingly kind but accomodations are rather poor.Tonight my room won't get warm.I feel like I was in a barn.I want to finish some work on hand but oh dear, it tis so cold. 

It is supper time so I close, hoping you are well and ever on the road to success.

Your friend,


Tuesday [15 August, 1901 ?] Greenwood S. D.*originally misdated

Dear Montezuma,

I wrote you a long letter yesterday which by the way served to kindle this morning's fire.I told you in trifling details the nightmare this summer is to me, for under certian trails, they were magnified till a larger view of the purpose of life was wholly obscured.I do not speak at all to Mr. N.His intrusion lost me hundreds of dollars besides untold worry on his sister's account.

Writer's queeriness adds to the pathos of the situation.Your eveasive reply to my request make me think hard of giving you all up.I felt rather desperate and cared little indeed if I ever wrote again.I do not care anymore this morning what I do, but at least I won't bother you with my "mosquito bites."I do not alter a mood of my last letter but I say stick to your post and your own conscience.I am not coming to Chicago, nor do I count yuo your coming west.I am not worth the sacrifice.The Public is of some "consequence" and therefore the first considered. You live in the Public and not me.So don't foolyouself by a juggling with words.At any rate we are obliged to postpone our plans for it would be folly for either to harbor a secret unhappiness by complying half-heartedly with the other's wish.And in the meanwhile, should you meet with another more like yourself, then do not pause a moment on my account.I am equal to knocking about and bearing what falls in my lot.I may not hang them on my walls as readily as you can, but I can stand them inmy own way.

[? August 1901]

So, do not apply for the position of Agency physician, since you cannot do it with the proper spirit.I have a plan for myself this year.This moment's idea.

I do not return east nor remain here.You will hear in plenty of time how or where my course is laid.It is stage time and I must close.



[1 May 1902]

Dear friend,

I was surprised to learn of your peep into "Everbody's Magazine" and discovery there of a little story of mine. ["A Warrior's Daughter"].I did not know it was out for I take no magazines and book stores or paper stands are quite foreign to this land.

Thanks for your suggestions about drinks.I have such dread of hot weather.I guess the Col. was not wrong when he said I was a human iceberg.Icebergs dread heat scarce more than I do.Cold seasons are the only times one can livemost I think.I know last summer, I suffered so from the heat that I wished I could "take off my flesh and sit in my bones"!As for coming for refuge to the lake breeze, you know that is impossible.If I were content to drink just water I would not bore you with my complaint but I simply cannot and so this (is useless?).

I am glad to hear of your gradual march of triumph into the New Life.A house with a lawn and flowers surely is a spledid index of a splendid character.That is another feathe in your cap!My your success will eventually fill your cap with so many feathers I'll have to call it a "war-bonnet.""Montezuma's war-bonnet!"what a striking title for your biography!

By the way, "The Atlantic Monthly" has just accepted a little scribble of mine, "Why I am a Pagan." (published December 1902)I imagine Carlisle will rear upon its haunchesat sight of the little sky rocket!ha ha!

[1 May 1902 p.2 ]

Do you know any reliable violinist or violin maker in chicago?Is there any way of finding such a person?I think I have come across a valuable "old" violin but am not sure.I hardly dare risk it eitherfor it may be worth several hundreds.I'd like to have it examined by an honest expert who 

would tell the truth about it.The violin is mutilated shamefully for the people who have it do not appreciate it.If it were possible I'd like to have it repaired, and put into proper shape.There are ugly ivory pegs fitted in there stead. [in stead of brass?]Could you ask Nichols sister about the best city violin makers there.She might even be willing to go along and help you by her closer intimacy with the make-up of a violin.

I am quite interested in this violin for I have always said " some where in the world there must be a fine old violin awaiting my discovery and claim upon it."I said this laughingly for an old violin is what I most wish for and yet they are so expensive, costing into the hundreds and often into the thousands.I never dreamt of buying one.


Z-S (w/dots)

Monday [early spring6 1902]date? married to Ray Bonnin on May 10, 1902

Dear Montezuma,

Just before I begin the day's labor in my private office which I at last rented here in the hotel, I would drop a line to you in noisy Chicago.My friend, you would, after knowing that another holds my regard, allure me with home and supply of daily necessities.I would be untrue to my own idea, to you--for you deserve a true and undivided love--and to the third party also.

It would be wrong for me to yield to your persuasion and I cannot accept more in that sacred line than I could give in return.You would grow dissatisfied Montezuma and then would follow sad days.I have lands here that are estimated at $6,000 and there is talk of paying off the Indians who can take care of themselves.I shall not be in need of a home, for I shall have enough to start one, at the least.This is not counting my share in my mother's land which is [estimated] to be about $2000.So with $8000 for rainy weather, I can pass the present days with my old writings and western interests.

I have other confidences to make to you.Once while yet in school I had a chum.She was an Indian territory gal.[?} after returning was married.

She died a month ago leaving behind a request that I take hertwo year old baby girl.I've not decided what to do.I feel strongly inclined to take it but have as much work in hand that I hardly see how to arrange her keeping.

I have waited to see what you say about the ring, and in the meanwhile wear it as a friendship ring.I do not wish to hurt your feelings needlessly, or I would suggest paying you the its money value, that I might always keep the token of one so loyal to me as I believe you to be.

I must close my letter this day for other matters crowd upon my time.


[23 June1902 ]

Did I not once return that infernal ring?Who used his powers of persuasion to cause me to wear it again?You did, you uptight blameless man!Have you forgot how you contradicted me every time I told you I thought it useless to consider matrimony?If you have forgot, I guess Mrs. Cook could remind you of some of your conduct toward me not so long ago.And I think she would not blame me and let you stand with a halo on!

I got your two letters today.Ten miles is quite away for daily delivery of post, but you perfect creatures took no thought of another's feelings.You wrote cruelly, unkindly in the manner of some low Italian day-go (sic).

I had the mis-fortune of losing the ring and while as far as I regretted the loss for the circlet as a token, now I regret it more that I don't have it to send it to you!I gave you the chance to name the price that I might refund your affection in money, but you let the chance go by, leaving me to infer that your delicate and genuine feeling for me would not take it back and so you were still.

Now--(after I told you months ago I had met another)--Now that I am married you write as you do!That is unlike you!I t is base and cowardly.


[10 July 1902] Greenwood, S. D.

Why do you seek a hold upon honesty where you insinuate honesty is not?Why I ask!

Wounded self-love turns vicious over time, affection as exemplified by the crucifixion of Christ.You are neither a follower of Christ nor a of love, as you professed.If this does not open your eyes, nothing ever will.

I am proud, fearless and as independent as you are--man that you pose to be.I can walk into the Realm of the Muddy Waters, defying your(?) forces any day.

I have tried to tell you I meant no harm to you.I meant no robbery.I thought a gift marked was a gift.Especially as you never made any mention of ever re-claiming it.And now you fume about like a chicken with its head cut off, knowing nothing of what you strut against!Are you a real Brave to the cause?then be calm.Speak to me as I deserve to be spoken to.And I will show you what I am made of.I then would make every effort to satisfy your mercinary demands.I have no deposits and depend upon my daily work, which is not always as regular as yours.But I so much regret the great misunderstanding between us.

         Montezuma, I am mortal as you are.If you would have charity for youe errors, have some for others.Have some for me, I ask you this once.If you do not hear me, I shall not be suseptible to any force.I only wish to be treated as a woman, as a mortal seeking to live honestly, stronger(?), not devoid of errors.


Yankton Agency, S. D.

26 July, 1902

Carlos Montezuma

100 State St

Chicago, Ill


I shall pay the cost of the lost ring by degrees as fast as possible if you will kindly forward me the bill of sale.

Mrs. Gertrude Bonnin


Montezuma replies on professional stationary (copy in letters)

29 July, 1902


In reply to your of 26 inst.I would say the ring is over 60 years old and not purchased lately.A friend who was precious to me presented it into my hands with her last words, "never allow this ring [to] be worn by another, unless it be the one."

[i believe it to be] worth over $90.It will be satisfactory to me for you to replace the loss as you letter indicates.......at $75.

Carlos Montezuma

AppendixReel 32 letters 1913

Tuesday. A. M. May 13, 1913

My Dear Dr. Montezuma,

The real joys in Life we get only in little "nips," as you said last night.With some of us those "nips" are few amd far between.But really some times the thing we desire had we got it, may have proven any thing but a joy.In all sincerity I want to say that You had a narrow escape--but you escaped.I was not worthy cecause I did not recognize true worth at that time.

Permit me to say that I am one of your admirers.It does not really matter one way or another to you, because I am not great as you are.However, I wish you to know that I would like to be counted as one of your friends.I humbly beg your gorgiveness for my gross stupidity of former years, which was not relieved by my misfortune to lose what I could not replace.I havenever passed through Chicago since that time and I could not go through now without putting forth an effort--no matter how hard--no matter if you might have refused to see me, I had to try to see you.

You are generously kind to welcome me and I wished we might have had the opportunity to talk but we couldn't.So I am taking the liberty to write to you.I am going to Westerville, Ohio to visit a dear friend of mine, Miss Maud Russell.Should you care to to say anything to be kind to me, you may write me there.My address will be

Gertrude Bonnin

Westerville, Ohio

c/o Miss Maud Russell

13 May 1913 p. 2

I seem to be in spiritual unrest.I hate this eternal tug of war between wild and becoming civilized.The transition is an endless evolution, that keeps me in a continual purgatory.My duty as mother and wife, of course, keeps me in the West, But now I can hardly stand the inner spiritual clamor--to study, to write--to do more with my music, yet duty first!Rip Van Winkle slept twenty years!but my sleep was disturbed in half that time.I wonder if I may sleep again.Gertrude Bonnin


Burlington StationJune 23rd 1913

My dear Dr. Montezuma,

Time got away so fast that I am taking a wait here for a few letters among which is one to you.I am bound for Spalding Institute, A Benedictine Sisters School, Nauvoo, Ill.The nearest railroad station is across the river at Montrose, Iowa.I will arrive there at 8 P. M. tonight.I am taking my boy to school.I know it is necessary to educate him but this knowledge does not make it any easier to leave him.We came though your "berg" this morning but didn't telephone you as I imagined you might be busy.

I fully meant to write to you and also Gen. Pratt, while I was in Westerville but I din't have time.I got such a nice letter from Gen Pratt.He said you had written him.Thank you for the compliment.Gen. Preatt says you paid my boy .While in Westerville I had my eyes examined, you know what that means. Oh, no-- I was not thinking of old age, I mean the Belladona used to enlarge the pupils of the eyes.I could not use my eyes for ten days or more!Then when I recovered, for I was sick incidentally from a severe cold contracted while in Chicago.

23 June 1913 p. 2

I studied piano music at Otterbein University.I practiced 6 hours a day.Now thats hard labor.I want to earn a diploma in Piano Music one of these days.You know I have a great desire to finish things I had once started.(I have no table to write on so excuse very poor writing.)I studied a piano piece which is considered one of the most difficult things written for the piano.Prof. Grabill said I had talent.I am not bragging but simply telling you the encouragement I have along my line of study.

I am returning to Utah because Mr. Bonnin insists upon it.I shall continue my study at home, and try to go every summer to some place to study under a real first class teacher of music.I am telling you all this because I want you to know that I intend to improve my mind.I intend also to direct my boy's course in school, hence forth.

I fear I won't be able to attend the Indian association, even though it should chance to meet in Denver.It is not that I lack interest or even public spirit, but my duties seem to limit me to the home, for the time, at any rate.

I should count it a special favor if you would send me copies of your lectures and articles published, should you feel so inclined, now and then.I will not be in a position to recieve any letter, even though it might be ever so impersonal, as I know you would have made it.In view of this, I would be glad to know of your work through an occasional copy of something you've "donegone and said."Should I do anything, I'll let you know, but I doubt my doing anything worth while for some time to come as I shall have to spend so much time in practice and teaching too.Let me wish you continued successes.

Yours sincerely,Gertrude Bonninp.s. I will return to "Ft. Duchesne, Utah" where Mr. Bonnin is a Government employee.G.