In Memoriam: Vine Deloria Jr., 1933-2005
I read that Vine Deloria Jr., has died. When I was a sophomore in high school taking American History, my final project/research paper for the year ended up being on the American Indian Movement and related efforts at self-determination. I'm not 100% sure how I got on that subject since I know I started out the year wanting to write a paper on the environmental movement. But I do remember running into Deloria's biting prose at the public library, and getting sucked into it, sitting in the narrow aisles. I'm a big fan of careful, measured statements, but this was a man who lunged for the gut and swiped at the ego, who did not have time for cheap politeness. He was not just being a show-off wit and his sarcasm was fueled by heartfelt experience. From Amazon I find the second page of Custer Died For Your Sins
"We often hear "give it back to the Indians" when a gadget fails to work. It's a terrible thing for a people to realize that society has set aside all non-working gadgets for their exclusive use."
I'm afraid I haven't remotely kept up with Native issues since then, just taking a related religious studies class in college. It's a shortcoming--I should read more. I know I didn't, and don't, agree with much of what he had to say, but I admire deeply the work he did to make sure he and his people were finally heard. I shall have to rectify my ignorance in his wake.