Zitkala-Ša Quarter

American Women Quarters


The 2024 Zitkala-Ša Quarter is the 15th coin in the American Women Quarters™ Program. Zitkala-Ša was a writer, composer, educator, and political activist for Native American rights. Her advocacy led to the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 which granted American Indians U.S. citizenship while maintaining their tribal standing.

Zitkala-Ša (translated “Red Bird”) was born a member of the Yankton Dakota Sioux on South Dakota’s Yankton Indian Reservation. She received an education through a white missionary boarding school in Wabash, Indiana that prohibited Native American customs and traditions.

She studied at Earlham College, where she won awards for her oratory skills and began collecting and translating Native American oral histories. She then trained as a violinist at the New England Conservatory of Music and performed at the White House for President William McKinley.

Zitkala-Ša was a gifted musician and violinist. She collaborated with William F. Hanson on what is considered the first known American Indian opera. Premiering in Utah in 1913, The Sun Dance Opera was centered on the Sun Dance, a sacred Sioux ceremonial dance that was prohibited by the U.S. government. She felt that the opera would be a powerful way to share her values with diverse audiences.

Zitkala-Ša joined the Society of American Indians, a group focused on preserving traditional Native American culture while also lobbying for full American citizenship. She also lectured across the country, promoting the preservation of Native American cultural and tribal identities. In the 1920s, she was active in the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, where she created the Indian Welfare Committee.

Zitkála-Ša and her husband co-founded the National Council of American Indians in 1926, which continued to lobby for Native American suffrage rights. She served as the council’s president, public speaker, and major fundraiser, until her death.

Zitkala-Ša died on January 26, 1938, in Washington, DC. She is buried at Arlington National Cemetery with her husband.

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The obverse (heads) depicts a portrait of George Washington, originally composed and sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser to mark George Washington’s 200th birthday. A recommended design for the 1932 quarter, then-Treasury Secretary Mellon ultimately selected the familiar John Flanagan design.

The reverse (tails) depicts Zitkala-Ša in traditional Yankton Sioux dress. She is holding a book, which represents her work as an author as well as her successful activism for Native American rights. Behind her, a stylized sun represents her work on The Sun Dance Opera, while a cardinal symbolizes her name, which translates to “Red Bird.” A Yankton Sioux-inspired diamond pattern sits underneath the sun.

Obverse Inscriptions

  • 2024

Reverse Inscriptions

  • 25 CENTS

Mint and Mint Mark


Composition Weight Diameter Thickness Edge No. of Reeds
8.33% Nickel
Balance Copper
5.670 g
0.955 in.
24.26 mm
1.75 mm Reeded 119

Artist Information

  • Laura Gardin Fraser (1889-1966)
Reverse Content last reviewed July 18, 2023

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