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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

CO AIM calls for Vince Carroll to be fired

From the Native Times:

AIM calls for newspaper columnist to be canned for criticizing Deloria
Claimed Indian scholar had “wacky” ideas

Sam Lewin 11/22/2005

In what is perhaps a sign of how deeply the passing of Vine Deloria impacted Indian Country, the Colorado branch of the American Indian Movement is calling for a newspaper columnist to be fired after he said Deloria had some “wacky” views and “contempt” for “some science.”

In a statement, AIM also says they want a full apology and “a monthly column to publicize indigenous perspectives on topical issues of importance.”

The article by Rocky Mountain News columnist Vincent Carroll appeared on Nov. 18. Although somewhat complimentary of Deloria-Carroll says the legendary author and philosopher possessed a “wicked sense of humor” and wrote “influential books”-the controversy centers around the following passage: “But what the obituaries and tributes have for the most part danced around or ignored is the utterly wacky nature of some of his views. [In a 1996 book] Deloria rejected the Bering land bridge theory of prehistoric migration to the Western Hemisphere since he believed Indians existed here ‘at the beginning’ - probably as contemporaries of dinosaurs. And this bizarre claim only hints at his contempt for much science. Deloria insisted that we shouldn't sanitize America's past. Fair enough. But let's not sanitize his legacy, either.”

AIM’s response was fast and furious. full article

We are also be posting letters to the RMN that have not been published.

Mr. Carroll

It is a shame that you couldn't write an article such as this while Vine was alive. If you did he could have challenged you point by point. It appears as though your article is a cowardly act after the fact! In addition it is the truth that Indigenous peoples have stories of their creation on this hemisphere and did not travel the Bering strait. Too bad you didn't research what Vine was truly saying because you would realize that Vine was disseminating traditional knowledge and Indigenous perspective.

I understand that the legacy of colonialism indoctrinates the average american to ignore the voices and world view of Indigenous peoples. It is after all in your best interest to be in denial about the genocide and oppression that allows the unearned privilege of the american lifestyle of the semi-rich, rich, and wickedly rich and shameless. You add insult to injury by saying that Vines' views and humor are wacky, well actually his views are in line with numerous Indian and Non Indian peoples alike! Your article is inaccurate and you should apologize for being ignorant, racist and guilty of stereotyping Indigenous ancestors as contemporaries of the dinosaurs.

In fact the ancestors on this hemisphere gave western science the concept of ZERO, and lived in temples while western europeans were scratching around in caves, eating raw meat without any spices, chocolate, or tomatoes! Obviously Vine was a champion of Indigenous rights, and the struggle continues after his passing. Especially when their are inept authors such as yourself who try to redefine and recontextualize a man and his work after his death. This is exactly why Vine had such a great humor, because as Indians we have to deal with a lot of fools such as yourself. The racism, oppression, and stereotyping must be challenged. Too bad you couldn't build a bridge to Native communities, especially the strong Native communities that exist in the Arapaho territory known as Denver!

Vine Deloria Jr. was a strong advocate for Indian education, he expressed Indian people must fight the legacy of colonialism with intellect. I recently earned a Masters degree, and I am not alone, many more indigenous peoples are doing the same. May we have millions of minds [native and non native] as critical, intelligent, and yes beautifully humorous like that of Vine's rise up in his place.

LisaNa M Red Bear

Dear Editor:

I would like to respond to Vincent Carroll's characterization of Vine Deloria, Jr.'s scholarship as whacky.

I wholeheartedly agree with Colorado AIM that these comments on the day of his funeral and memorial were misplaced at best. I disagree that his comments are as serious as the 19th century commentaries that sparked the Sand Creek Massacre.*

That said, I am extremely disappointed that a man who contributed as much of himself as Vine Deloria, Jr. did to a better understanding of Native American reliigious tradiitons, Indian Law, American History, planetary history, and more would be so callously dismissed.

Vine was my mentor, and certainly many of his ideas strayed far from the mainstream. However, this stemmed as much from the fact that Vine felt both the scientific establishment and the mainline religious establishment were often the self-appointed guardians of truth and reality. He knew, like so many others, that just because we believe something or just because we think something is a fact, that does not make it so. He encouraged us to think, to consider alternative theories, and to see the weaknesses in what have come to be accepted truths.

The Bering Straits theory is just that, a theory. There is a great deal of evidence against this theory, just as there is some compelling evidence that there was some travel accross this supposed bridge. Vine exposed great weaknesses in the blind acceptance of a theory, which was often based on pure speculation absent empirical validation. His criticisms have only
strengthened the search for a better understanding of the past.

Genetics, the study of mitochondrial DNA groups, and the development of alternative, plausible theories about Pre-Columbian migrations, including the stories of indigenous people themselves all fascinated and intrigued Vine. He would not, however sacrifice the continued search for better answers just because established anthroplogists, archaeologists, and the
scientific priesthood all said we should.

For that reason alone, Vine deserves an aoplogy. Encouraging thoughtful discourse and an open mind is never "whacky", but rather is a beautiful contribution to humanity.

Patrick Soch
Denver, CO
* The Sand Creek connection was not derived from Carroll's maligning of Vine but from the editorials of the RMN which helped to incite it.

Rocky Mountain News:

Vincent Carroll’s column on the day of Vine Deloria Jr.’s funeral (Nov. 18), in which Carroll termed Prof. Deloria’s body of knowledge “wacky,” was tasteless and uninformed. It dishonored one of Native America’s foremost leaders.

The column also violated a key tenet of “free speech” in that it emanated from a bully pulpit whose advantage in reaching sheer numbers is unavailable to those who disagree and who lack equal access to the public forum.

The Rocky Mountain News enjoys the corporate power to both reflect what it perceives to be the prevailing public consensus (in order to appeal to both subscribers and advertisers) and to thereby reinforce existing biases against members of Native Nations.

The News is also guilty of creating a corporate environment in which it is safe to attack Native peoples without any apparent accountability. Columns like Carroll’s do not appear without the tacit approval of the publisher and the executive and managing editors, among others.

One can only hope that this kind of racist sniping will cease to be regarded as a necessary component of the corporate bottom line. Maybe the moral high ground or even a little courage could prevail!

Carol Berry

Vince Carroll

John Temple(RMN Editor)


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