Deloria, Vine, Jr. Alfonso Ortiz - Essay

Alfonso Ortiz

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto] is the most ambitious and most successful overview of contemporary American Indian affairs and aspirations I have ever read, whether "contemporary" is defined as the 1950's, 1960's, or the beginning of the 1970's…. Neither the range of scholars who view the Indian from the confines of their own academic perspectives nor the areal specialists are likely to be satisfied with Deloria's coverage, but this is a danger inherent in any and every attempt at a general treatment of the Indian's current status in American life. The two chapters covering laws, treaties, and termination, for instance, are too programmatic, but the subjects have been well chronicled by others. Another chapter, entitled "Indian Humor," is unrepresentative in that it is elitist; if most Indians could pierce through very complex if incongruous situations of the modern world and perceive the humor in them, as Deloria so obviously can, then we would not have quite the problems we do. Still another, entitled "The Red and the Black," has had more than one commentator from among the latter up the wall for a variety of reasons. But, all in all, this is the most comprehensive treatment of the subject available in a readable format; every special interest group impinging on Indian communities today comes in for an unkind word at some time or other. (p. 953)

Alfonso Ortiz, "Other: 'Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto'," in American Anthropologist (copyright 1971 by the American Anthropological Association; reproduced by permission of the American Anthropological Association), Vol. 73, No. 4, 1971, pp. 953-55.