Vine Deloria, Jr. was one of Indian Country’s best. He was a beloved and respected (and sometimes controversial) scholar, visionary, humorist, revolutionary, and human being. He was a primary spokesman of native cultural and political identity.
Vine Deloria, Jr. passed on from this world the morning of, November 13th, 2005 from Denver, Colorado. There was no one else like him. The magnitude of our loss is stunning.
Deloria was born March 26, 1933 in Martin, S.D. near the Pine Ridge Reservation. He was Standing Rock Sioux and trained as a theologian and an attorney.
Custer Died For Your Sins blasted Indians into the cultural atmosphere of American thought in 1969. His sardonic humor was the real power in this book, a book some have called a manifesto.
Yet some of his most important work was from 1964 to 1967, when he worked for the National Conference of American Indians. He became a leading spokesman for Indians in Washington as the group's leader.
'I think he opened Americans' eyes to the real history of Native Americans and the injustice of past federal policies,'' said John Echohawk, executive director of the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder. '''Through Vine's leadership, tribes started to stand on their treaties and their right to self-determination,'' he said.
"If you mark down the great figures of the American West in recent times, he belongs there because of his role in reshaping Indian country," said Charles F. Wilkinson, a professor of law at the University of Colorado and a longtime friend. "I think in the last 100 years, he's been the most important person in Indian affairs, period."
"We have brought the white man a long way in 500 years," he wrote in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times in 1976. "From a childish search for mythical cities of gold and fountains of youth to the simple recognition that lands are essential for human existence."
He held a number of teaching positions during his career, and retired from the University of Colorado in 2000.
His many books include: Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties, The Metaphysics of Modern Existence, We Talk,You Listen: New Tribes, New Turf, and God is Red.
His lasting concern was for a compassionate vision for this place, one that included justice and a comprehensive understanding of the humanity of all life on this earth. The immensity of his gift--remains. We still need his vision in this world shifting drastically about us.
Vine Deloria, Jr. is survived by his wife, Barbara, of Golden; three children, Philip, Daniel and Jeanne; a brother; a sister; and seven grandchildren
A memorial reading to honor the gift of the life of Vine Deloria, Jr
November 30th, 2006
Willard Reading Room, Zimmerman Library
University of New Mexico Main Campus
Free and Open to the Public
Hosted by The Indigenous Nations Library Program (INLP), Native American Studies (NAS), Indian Law Program -UNM School of Law, Native American Studies Indigenous Research Group (NASIRG), KIVA Club, Native American Health Sciences Society, and Joy Harjo.
If you are interested in reading, please email Joy Harjo at firstname.lastname@example.org
For other information email Mary Bowannie at email@example.com or call NAS at 277-3917
If you have photographs to share for the Powerpoint presentation, email them directly to Patrick Willink at firstname.lastname@example.org