Deloria, Vine, Jr. Nancy Oestreich Lurie - Essay

Nancy Oestreich Lurie

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The differences in goals and methods of black militancy and red nationalism is a subject fraught with confusion and misunderstanding for the general public, both black and white.] Deloria's very equivocation as to any mutual relevance of the red and the black movements [in Custer Died for Your Sins] is characteristic of the thinking of many young Indians and thus informative. Another chapter—that on Indian humor—would have elucidated the Indian mood very well for the average, uninformed American and helped to explain what "Custer Died for Your Sins" implies. These chapters and those dealing with the central issue of treaties in Indian political ideology, the history of cross-purposes in Indian administration, the nature of Indian leadership, the interplay of cultural and social forces between country- and urban-based Indians, the range from assimilationists to traditionalists among Indians, and even Deloria's personal preferences as to policy and program reform justify the subtitle of his book as An Indian Manifesto rather than just An Indian's Manifesto….

The book is certainly crotchety, and the three chapters dealing with anthropologists, missionaries, and the government are fully comprehensible only to an often infighting ingroup rather than to the general public for whom the book is intended. Nevertheless, whatever personal bias Deloria brings to his writing out of his more white than Siouan ancestry, a...

(The entire section is 517 words.)