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> Vine Deloria Jr. Has Crossed Over.
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Swanny 
Posted: 16-Nov-2005, 07:25 AM
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By KIRK JOHNSON
Published: November 16, 2005

DENVER, Nov. 14 - Vine Deloria Jr., a Standing Rock Sioux who burst into the American consciousness in 1969 with his book "Custer Died for Your Sins" and later amplified his message through 20 more books about the Native American experience, died on Sunday, a family friend said.

He was 72 and lived in Golden, just west of Denver, and had recently been hospitalized with an aortic aneurysm.

Mr. Deloria, who was trained as both a seminarian and a lawyer, steadfastly worked to demythologize how white Americans thought of American Indians. The myths, he often said - whether as romantic symbols of life in harmony with nature or as political bludgeons in fostering guilt - were both shallow. The truth, he said, was a mix, and only in understanding that mix, he argued, could either side ever fully heal.

And while his Custer book, with its incendiary title, was categorized at the time as an angry young man's anthem, Mr. Deloria's real weapon, critics and admirers said, was his scathing, sardonic humor, which he was able to use on both sides of the Indian-white divide. He once called the Battle of the Little Bighorn, where Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh Cavalry were defeated by a combined force of Sioux and Northern Cheyenne in 1876 in the Montana territory, "a sensitivity-training session."

"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."

In "We Talk, You Listen: New Tribes, New Turf" (1970), Mr. Deloria argued that technology and corporate values were destroying American life, and urged a return to the tribal standards of Indian culture as a window to salvation.

In "God is Red" (1973), he took that position of deliverance-through-Indian-ways further, arguing that American Indian spiritual traditions, far from being dated, were in fact more in tune with the needs of the modern world than Christianity, which Mr. Deloria said fostered imperialism and disregard for the planet's ecology.

But Mr. Deloria often said he was writing for Indian audiences most of all, hoping, he said, to instill belief in a culture had been shattered by history, and by deliberate government policy.

Vine Deloria Jr. was born on March 26, 1933, in one of the poorest parts of the nation, then and now, in Martin, S.D., near the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux Indian Reservation, the son of a Indian Episcopalian clergyman.

He was educated initially in reservation schools, and after a stint in the Marines in the 1950's, received a degree in general science from Iowa State University.

But religion and spirituality at the border of Indian and white ways was a running theme in the Deloria family - an ancestor was reportedly one of the earliest Sioux converts to Christianity, in the 1860's - and Mr. Deloria eventually followed his father's path and received a master's degree in theology in 1963 from the Lutheran School of Theology in Illinois.

From there, from 1964 to 1967, he worked for the National Conference of American Indians, where, even before the book that made him famous, he became a leading spokesman for Indians in Washington. He often testified before Congress at a time when the ferment of ideas and social movements in civil rights and ethnic identity were in full boil.

He took a law degree at the University of Colorado in 1970, and later, in 1990, joined its faculty, teaching history until his retirement in 2000.

Mr. Deloria's other books included "Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties" (1974) and "The Metaphysics of Modern Existence" (1979).

Mr. Deloria is survived by his wife, Barbara, of Golden; three children, Philip, Daniel and Jeanne; a brother; a sister; and seven grandchildren.

Source = NY Times


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gallesjrrt 
Posted: 16-Nov-2005, 03:52 PM
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I heard about this on the radio the other day - have to admit that it's the first I'd consciously heard of him, but I'll definitely have to look up some of his work. Interesting how similar Celtic and Native American spiritualities can be, isn't it?!


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Nightchild 
Posted: 16-Nov-2005, 04:36 PM
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I never heard of him. But that might be, because I'm in Germany, who knows...

By the way: I think you can find parallels to spirituality in asia as well as to that in south america as well as to that in africa. At least that's what I think... wink.gif


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Shadows 
Posted: 16-Nov-2005, 05:53 PM
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His thoughts and writings will be missed! Now that he is gone maybe his works will be more widely read.


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gaberlunzie 
Posted: 17-Nov-2005, 05:14 PM
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Thank you for this post, Swanny. I have read "God is Red" ... I wish you are right, Shadows and his thoughts and writings will get more recognition.
And for sure he will be missed.

Nightchild, if you are interested in his writings, you can get some at amazon.de.


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Nightchild 
Posted: 17-Nov-2005, 05:27 PM
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Thanks. I'll... try to read some of his writings. Not sure when I'll manage, though. There's so much that wants to be read and my time is just... not enough... sad.gif
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gaberlunzie 
Posted: 17-Nov-2005, 05:30 PM
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You're welcome, Nightchild.I just wanted to let you know...and I hear you! Seems like I never get enough time to do all the reading I'd loved to do, too.
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