Vine Deloria, Jr. Reference

Vine Deloria, Jr.

(Native Americans: A Comprehensive History)

Article abstract: Vine Deloria, Jr., was the most prolific of Indian protest writers and an advocate of education for American Indians.

After receiving a bachelor's degree in science from Iowa State University, Vine Deloria, Jr., studied for a career as a minister, earning a master's in theology from the Lutheran School of Theology in Illinois. Then he earned a J.D. from the University of Colorado law school that enabled him to serve as the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians. He taught political science and Native American studies at the University of Arizona, which he left to direct the Indian studies program at the University of Colorado.

Much of the power of Deloria's writing comes from his sharp-witted political satire, as manifested especially in two books on contemporary Indian life. His first book, Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto (1969), indicts the U.S. government's treatment of Indians and has served as a manifesto for Indian activists. In We Talk, You Listen: New Tribes, New Turf (1970), he pleads for a return to tribalism, by which he means a return to a balanced relationship among people, land, and religion. He has written much about political and legal issues concerning Indian-white relations, including Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties: An Indian Declaration of Independence (1974); American Indians, American Justice (1983); and American Indian Policy in the Twentieth Century (1985). Best-known of his books on Indian religion is God Is Red (1973), in which he argues that Indian religions that promote an ecologically sound relationship with the environment are more appropriate in contemporary America than Christianity. He also edited A Sender of Words: Essays in Memory of John G. Neihardt (1984), a volume that contains essays on Black Elk Speaks. Deloria's later works include Tribes, Treaties, and Constitutional Tribulations (1999), Documents of American Indian Diplomacy (2000), and Power and Place: Essays in American Indian Education (2001).

Further Reading

Deloria, Barbara, Kristen Foehner, and Sam Scinta. Spirit and Reason: The Vine Deloria, Jr., Reader. Golden, Colo.: Fulcrum Publishing, 1999.

Warrior, Robert Allen. Tribal Secrets: Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994.