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Old 11-15-2005, 10:37 AM   #1
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Vine Deloria Jr 1933-2005, Obit from NativeWeb

Vine Deloria Jr., 1933-2005: Scholar helped strengthen hand of Indian tribes

By CLAIRE MARTIN
THE DENVER POST

Scholar Vine Deloria Jr., a Standing Rock Sioux member who died Sunday at age 72 in Golden, Colo., galvanized social and institutional change with his 1969 manifesto, "Custer Died for Your Sins."

His seminal work forced anthropologists and government officials to amend their relationships with tribal people, from returning human remains and artifacts to shifting federal control to tribal officials.

Deloria helped focus national attention on fishing rights in the Northwest, a battle known as the "fish wars," which led to the historic 1974 Boldt Decision upholding Indian treaty rights.

"This is like losing an elder," said Alan Parker, former chief counsel for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, who is now on the faculty for Native American law and policy at The Evergreen State College in Olympia.

Deloria, a lawyer and theologian, inspired Parker and many other Native American youths of his generation to go to law school as a way "to be a warrior."

"For Indian writers, activists, and intellectuals -- for all Native people who see themselves as part of the movement (to gain Indian rights) -- he was our hero," Parker said.

A descendant of Sitting Bull and son of a Christian minister, Deloria was born in Martin, S.D., in 1933. He served in the Marines and graduated from Iowa State University and the Lutheran School of Theology.

Deloria earned a law degree from the University of Colorado, where he was a professor until retiring in 2000.

He served as director of the National Congress of American Indians from 1964 to 1967. Under his guidance, the organization became a strong presence in Washington, D.C. His 1965 editorial "Now Is the Time" helped establish tribal autonomy and installed Deloria as "our Martin Luther King," in the words of Indian rights attorney Charles Wilkinson.

Phil Lane, chief executive of the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation in Seattle, described Deloria as fearless. Lane, whose father was a cousin of Deloria's, considered the man his uncle. "Wherever there were native people struggling, he was there."

P-I reporter Carol Smith contributed to this report.
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Old 11-15-2005, 10:42 AM   #2
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"Obit from LA Times"

Vine Deloria, Indian historian and activist, dies at 72

By Myrna Oliver

Los Angeles Times


Vine Deloria Jr., author of the scathing best-seller "Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto" and an influential historian and spokesman for American Indian rights, has died. He was 72.

Mr. Deloria, who taught at the University of Colorado from 1990 to 2000, died Sunday in Denver of complications from an aortic aneurysm, his family said. He lived in nearby Golden, Colo.

"Vine was a great leader and writer, probably the most influential American Indian of the past century — one of the most influential Americans, period," said Charles Wilkinson of the University of Colorado School of Law and an expert on Indian law.

Mr. Deloria wrote more than 20 books, but it was his first in 1969, "Custer Died for Your Sins," that brought him to the nation's attention.

In 2002, Wilkinson called it "perhaps the single most influential book ever written on Indian affairs" and described it as "at once fiery and humorous, uplifting and sharply critical."

J.A. Phillips, in reviewing the book for Best Sellers shortly after it was published, wrote that Mr. Deloria "blasts the political, social, and religious forces that perpetuate the ... stereotyping of his people."

The author's disdain for Gen. George Armstrong Custer never wavered.

"Soldiers were nothing to him, except tools," Mr. Deloria told the Los Angeles Times in 1996, describing Custer as a psychopath. "The soldiers were not defending civilization. They were crushing another society."

Publication of the powerful "Custer" book followed Mr. Deloria's 1964-67 tenure as executive director of the National Congress of American Indians. His leadership in lobbying Congress and setting forth American Indian rights issues in speeches and op-ed and other articles during the 1960s is widely credited with forcing a turning point in Indian policy.

Among Mr. Deloria's other books were "We Talk, You Listen" in 1970, "God is Red" in 1973 and "Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties" in 1974, about events leading up to the confrontation between American Indian activists and federal authorities at Wounded Knee the previous year. As an expert on Indian treaties, Mr. Deloria was a key witness for the defense in the Wounded Knee trial in St. Paul, Minn.

Born a Yankton Sioux in Martin, S.D., near the Pine Ridge Reservation, Mr. Deloria was the son of an Episcopalian minister and earned a master's degree in theology from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago.

At the time of his death, Mr. Deloria had been working on a book about Indian medicine men.

Mr. Deloria served in the Marine Corps in the mid-1950s and then earned a bachelor's degree at Iowa State University, his theology degree and then a law degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He taught at the University of Arizona from 1978 until 1990, when he joined the Colorado faculty, teaching in its departments of history, political science, law, ethnic studies and religious studies.

Mr. Deloria is survived by his wife of 47 years, Barbara; two sons, Philip and Daniel; a daughter, Jeanne; a brother, Philip; a sister, Barbara Sanchez, and seven grandchildren.

******

Walk peacefully brother...
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Old 11-15-2005, 02:05 PM   #3
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Old 11-16-2005, 11:19 AM   #4
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A Proud Son Speaks...

Deloria: Tales of a remarkable father Email this page Print this page
Posted: January 10, 2005
by: Philip Deloria


I leave it to others to testify to the public significance of Vine Deloria Jr. His political commitment, his wicked sense of humor, his ability to anticipate and thus to lead, even his path through his own history - these things are better discussed by others. What I am able to offer, however, is something few others can: A small sense of the backstage of his life. I do so not in the mode of the tell-all family confessional (there's nothing gossipy here), but as another way of exploring his achievements.

My father organizes time and space in curious ways. In every house in which we've lived, he has carved out an office space, marked always by the pine board bookshelves we built and rebuilt and rebuilt again each time we moved. Into those shelves, arranged by subject, has gone his ever-growing library. He is meticulous in ordering things - shelving, filing cabinets, banker's boxes, card files - but that does not prevent piles of papers from being scattered everywhere, testimony to the volume of information he is working through. Almost every office has had a canine writing companion: JD (for ''Just Dog''), New Dog, Harper the Dog, Comet, Marlowe and, presently, Bob the Dog. His most productive years, I suspect, can be indexed to the affection and endurance of particular hounds.

For many years, his writing routine - always at night - was like clockwork: Watch the 10:00 news, play solitaire for an hour, retreat to a beat-up armchair next to the low coffee table that held the IBM Selectric (still his weapon of choice) and type (with a dog curled up nearby) into the early morning. I remember in the late 1960s, when a thin wall separated his office from the room my brother and I shared, how the clatter of the keys used to wake me up in the middle of the night. I realize now that he was probably writing ''Custer Died For Your Sins.''

Like any good writer, he stuck to his schedule relentlessly, thinking through his arguments while playing solitaire, and then churning out up to 10 pages a night. In the midst of this regimen, however, he never failed to maintain a sense of whimsy. For a while, he watched ''The Godfather'' almost every night, memorizing the script and developing a pretty fair Brando impression. Another time it was ''Junior Bonner.'' Once, he made audiotapes that played a single favorite song over and over again. Listening to him write ''God is Red'' (through the floor this time), I also heard songs like ''Wolverton Mountain'' and ''El Paso'', some nights 20 times in a row. When I first picked up a guitar, I found that it was if I had been born knowing ''Drop Kick Me Jesus Through the Goalposts of Life.''

Indeed, his favorite photograph of himself originates, not in politics or academics, but from music. He is looking back over his shoulder, with country singer Jerry Jeff Walker's guitar in hand, and the crowd at Red Rocks amphitheater in the background. His smile is bemused joy. My father has always made Thanksgiving interesting by demanding popcorn on his turkey (''Corn is Indian food and we can do what we want with it.'') He hasn't adopted gear from the football team from Washington D.C., but he did at one point own three 1950s vintage Pontiac Chieftains, only one of which ran (all three of which, however, had the Chieftain hood ornament). He adores the house band at Lil' Abners Steakhouse in Tucson.

My father has always taken other worlds seriously. Sometimes late at night, he will do a tarot card reading for me or talk about reincarnation. He has a good friend who drives around the country following an alien mothership; the welcome mat is always out when the UFO people hit town. At one point, enamored with the theory of pyramid power, he asked my brother to build him a pyramid, some five feet tall and painted ''Giza Tan.'' He put razor blades out there to sharpen, filled old milk jugs with water and let them sit in the pyramid in the hot Tucson sun. We all hoped that the molecules would line up in a North-South direction (and maybe they did), but the ''power water'' was also home to some powerfully unpleasant bacteria that thrived on the pyramid. His wide-ranging, open-minded and serious engagement with the unseen possibilities, visible in books like ''The Metaphysics of Modern Existence'' and ''God is Red'', also produced other late night talk sessions, during which he passed along family stories of spiritual experience and power.

In the office/library, he has an amazing collection of material on the occult, catastrophism, religion and spirituality. On the pine plank shelves, you'll also find (in addition to the rich collections of American Indian history and politics you would expect) complete sets of all the great detective fiction writers, classic tracts of continental philosophy, a massive set of the collected writings of Carl Jung (he's read every page), huge sections on the Supreme Court, dinosaur origins, geology and theology, as well as a number of obscure single volumes that seem completely out of place.

The library always helps me to see just how wide-ranging he really is. Vine Deloria does not limit his thinking. He is constantly engaging ideas. Often these are new ideas, but just as often they are old - traditional knowledge or thoughts once recorded and then passed by. Even his engagements with what seem whimsical turn out to be part of the habits of a disciplined mind.

From the perspective of the kid in the room next to, or underneath, his office, he has been able to accomplish so much in large part not only because of his political commitment and his Native intelligence, but also because of these sometimes quirky habits of practice and belief - habits which, in the end, are part of a deep seriousness of purpose.

I could not be prouder of his achievements ... but I also like the memories of popcorn on turkeys, pyramid water cocktails and dogs with character. Those things are important too, not simply as family memories, but as part of the life that has produced - and will continue to produce - so much.

Philip J. Deloria is Vine Deloria Jr.'s eldest son. He is professor of History and American Studies at the University of Michigan and the author of ''Playing Indian'' and ''Indians in Unexpected Places.''
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