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Vine Deloria, Jr. (March 26, 1933–November 13, 2005) was an American Indian author, theologian, historian, and activist.

Background and education

Deloria was the grandson of Tipi Sapa (Black Lodge), also known as Rev. Philip Joseph Deloria, an Episcopal priest and a leader of the Yankton band of the Nakota Nation. Vine, Jr. was born in Martin, South Dakotamarker, near the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was first educated at reservation schools.

Deloria's father, Vine Sr. (1901-1990), studied English and Christian theology, became an Episcopal archdeacon and missionary on the Standing Rock Indian Reservationmarker, to which he transferred the family's tribal citizenship. Deloria Jr.'s aunt was the anthropologist Ella Deloria (1881-1971).

Deloria graduated from Iowa State Universitymarker in 1958 with a degree in general science. Deloria then served in the Marines from 1954 through 1956.

Deloria Jr. originally sought to be a minister, like his father, and in 1963 earned a theology degree from the Lutheran School of Theology in Rock Island, Illinoismarker. Deloria earned a law degree from the University of Coloradomarker in 1970.

Activism

"Mr. Deloria ... steadfastly worked to demythologize how white Americans thought of American Indians," wrote Kirk Johnson.

In 1964 Deloria was elected executive director of the National Congress of American Indians. During his three-year term, the organization went from bankruptcy to solvency, and membership went to 19 to 156 tribes.

While teaching in Bellingham, Washingtonmarker, Deloria advocated for the fishing rights of local tribes. He worked on the legal case that led to the Boldt Decision in 1974, United States vs. Washington, which validated Indian fishing rights.

Writing

In 1969, Deloria published his first of more than twenty books, entitled Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto. This book became one of Deloria's most famous works. In it, Deloria addressed Indian stereotypes and challenged white audiences to take a new look at the history of American western expansionism. The book was released around the time that the American Indian Movement was gaining momentum, and the book helped draw attention to the Native American struggle. The book focused on the Native American goal of sovereignty without political and social assimilation, and stood as a hallmark of Native American Self-Determination at the time. The American Anthropological Association sponsored a panel in response to Custer Died for Your Sins. The book could be described as a good-natured polemic, combining scholarship, advocacy, and humor.

In 1995, Deloria argued in his book Red Earth, White Lies, that the Bering land bridge never existed, and that the ancestors of the Native Americans did not migrate to the Americas over such a land bridge, as has been claimed by many archaeologists. Rather, he asserted that the Native Americans may have originated in the Americas, or reached them through transoceanic travel, as some of their creation stories suggested. His views on the age of certain geological formations, the length of time Native Americans have been in the Americas, their possible co-existence with dinosaurs, etc. were very influential in the development of American Indian Creationism.

Deloria wrote and edited many subsequent books and 200 articles, focusing on many issues as they related to Native Americans, such as education and religion.

Academic career

In 1970, Deloria took his first faculty position, teaching at the Western Washington Universitymarker College of Ethnic Studies in Bellingham, Washingtonmarker. As a visiting scholar, he taught at the Pacific School of Religion, the New School of Religion, and Colorado College. His first tenured position was at the University of Arizonamarker, which he held from 1978 to 1990. While at UA, Deloria established the first Master's degree program in American Indian Studies in the US. He then taught at the University of Colorado at Bouldermarker from 1990 to 2000. When he retired from Boulder, he taught at the University of Arizona's College of Law.

Honors

In 1974, after the publication of God Is Red: A Native View of Religion, Time Magazine named him as one of the primary "shapers and movers" of Christian faith and theology.

In 1999, he received the Wordcraft Circle Writer of the Year Award in the category of prose and personal/critical essays for his work Spirit and Reason. He was honorably mentioned on October 12, 2002 at the 2002 National Book Festival and also received the Wallace Stegner award from the Center of the American West in Boulder on October 23, 2002.

He was the winner of the 2003 American Indian Festival of Words Author Award. He was involved with many Native American organizations, and was a board member of the National Museum of the American Indianmarker beginning in 1977.

Death and legacy

After Deloria retired in May 2000, he continued to write and lecture until he died on November 13, 2005 in Golden, Coloradomarker from an aortic aneurysm. A scholarship fund was established in Deloria's name.

His son, Philip J. Deloria is also a respected historian and author.

Creationism

Deloria has been criticized for his embrace of American Indian creationism. Deloria often cited Christian creationist authors in support of his views relating to science. Deloria also relied on Hindu creationists such as Michael Cremo.

Quotes

When asked by an anthropologist what the Indians called America before the white man came, an Indian said simply, "Ours." –Vine Deloria, Jr.

Works



Secondary Literature

  • DeMallie, Raymond J. (2006) "Vine Deloria Jr. (1933-2005)." American Anthropologist, Vol. 108, No. 4: 932-935.
  • Indians and Anthropologists: Vine Deloria, Jr., and the Critique of Anthropology, ed. by Thomas Biolsi, Larry J. Zimmerman, University of Arizona Press 1997, ISBN 0816516073
  • Destroying Dogma: Vine Deloria, Jr. and His Influence on American Society, ed. by Steve Pavlik, Daniel R. Wildcat, Fulcrum Publishing 2006, ISBN 1555915191


See also



Notes

References



External links




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