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Opinion
Opinion: Understanding the late Vine Deloria Jr.


"Many of us first became acquainted with Dr. [Vine] Deloria's thinking when he published his groundbreaking work "Custer Died for Your Sins" in 1969. The book was a major awakening to those of us, who, while aware of the sins our fathers committed toward Native Americans from the 1600s and into the 20th century, were ignorant of our own cultural blindness and the failures of our state and federal governments under our own watch. It was addressed to a generation which accepted the fact that its predecessors committed atrocities and was willing to express regret and apologize for them.

But Dr. Deloria demanded that we take another step and accept the fact that, in our age, seeming beneficences such as assimilation might be motivated by greed for the natural resources which had been left to Native Americans by sheer happenstance. Ideologically challenging, the book is quite readable, often entertaining. It is filled with incisive wit and deep insights into the cultural clashes that were becoming more apparent at that time. It remains a timely and provocative work in the 21st century.

In the 30 years or so that followed "Custer Died for Your Sins," Dr. Deloria continued his probing into the religious and philosophical differences between Native and European cultures, to the point where he is widely regarded as one of a handful of truly significant theologians and philosophers of the past century."

Get the Story:
Wayne Gilbert: Understanding Vine Deloria (The Rapid City Journal 4/29)

Indian Country Today Articles from January 10, 2005:
Wilma Mankiller: An original thinker with a warrior's spirit
Suzan Shown Harjo: Selective memories of Vine Deloria Jr.
Faith Spotted Eagle: Deksi (Uncle) Vine
Charlie Wilkins: Visionary thinker and wordsmith par excellence
Hank Adams: A Vine Deloria Jr. collaboration: The first decade
John Mohawk: Vine Deloria Jr.'s unfolding legacy
Philip Deloria: Tales of a remarkable father
Norbert Hill: A hero to many

Related Stories:
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Haskell Prof: Deloria unrecognized for work (12/02)
Vine Deloria Jr. remembered at Haskell forum (12/1)
Opinion: Deloria was passionate advocate (11/28)
Harjo: My photo album of Vine Deloria Jr. (11/24)
Billy Frank: Keeping Vine Deloria's fire alive (11/24)
Philip Deloria: Nasty pokes in column about father (11/23)
Tim Giago: Deloria gave Indian people a voice (11/22)
Mark Trahant: Few writers as powerful as Deloria (11/21)
Deloria celebration scheduled in Rapid City (11/18)
Opinion: Deloria was always ahead of the curve (11/18)
Column: Deloria advanced some wacky views (11/18)
Vine Deloria funeral set for Friday in Colorado (11/17)
Tribal leaders recall Deloria as powerful advocate (11/17)
Opinion: Deloria introduced us to Indian Country (11/17)
Rick Williams: On the passing of Vine Deloria Jr. (11/16)
Editorial: Deloria changed how America views Indians (11/16)
Art Coulson: Safe journey for Vine Deloria Jr. (11/16)
Appreciation: Deloria an influential American (11/16)
Indian Country: In memoriam Vine Deloria Jr. (11/16)
Editorial: Deloria contributed to all Americans (11/16)
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Column: Vine Deloria refuses honorary degree (05/25)