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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

In Honor of Vine Deloria, Jr. (1933-2005)

The great indigenous visionary, philosopher, author and activist Vine Deloria, Jr. passed over to join his ancestors today, November 13, 2005. Our thoughts and prayers go to his wife, Barbara, to his children and his other relatives. The passing of Vine creates a huge intellectual and analytical void in the native and non-native worlds. He will be greatly missed.
It is appropriate on this website to reflect on the meaning of Vine's contibutions to indigenous peoples' resistance, and to reflect on our responsibilities to maintain and to advance the lessons that Vine gave to us. It is safe to say that without the example provided by the writing and the thinking of Vine Deloria, Jr., there likely would have been no American Indian Movement, there would be no international indigenous peoples' movement as it exists today, and there would be little hope for the future of indigenous peoples in the Americas.
Vine Deloria, Jr. was a true revolutionary when he wrote "Custer Died for Your Sins" in 1969, the first of his scores of books and scholarly articles (for a partial bibliography of Vine's important books go to:
http://www.ipl.org/div/natam/bin/browse.pl/A31). He had the courage and the vision to challenge the dominating society at its core. He was unapologetic in confronting the racism of U.S.law and policy, and he was prophetic in challenging young indigenous activists to hone their strategies.
We will write much more about Vine in the upcoming days. He was our elder statesman and mentor. For now, we will share this passage from "Custer Died For Your Sins," as a reminder of our responsibilities, and to ensure that we are more deliberate and strategic in our resistance.

"Ideological leverage is always superior to violence....The problems of Indians have always been ideological rather than social, political or economic....[I]t is vitally important that the Indian people pick the intellectual arena as the one in which to wage war. Past events have shown that the Indian people have always been fooled by the intentions of the white man. Always we have discussed irrelevant issues while he has taken our land. Never have we taken the time to examine the premises upon which he operates so that we could manipulate him as he has us."
-- "Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto," (1969) pp.251-252

and this relevent passage regarding the example of the great Oglala Lakota leader Tashunka Witko (Crazy Horse):
"Crazy Horse never drafted anyone to follow him. People recognized that what Crazy Horse did was for the best and was for the people. Crazy Horse never had his name on the stationery. He never had business cards. He never received a per diem. *** Until we can once again produce people like Crazy Horse all the money and help in the world will not save us. It is up to us to write the [next] chapter of the American Indian upon this continent." page 272

For many of us, Vine was a contemporary Crazy Horse. Perhaps we squandered his time with us. We took him for granted, and assumed that he would always be with us. Now, the question is, not only will we produce more Crazy Horses, but will we produce more Vine Deloria, Jr.s?

Vine, we will miss you, but we will continue your work toward freedom for native peoples everywhere. Mitakuye Oyasin.

(For a partial bibliography of Vine's important books go to:


At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Kris O'Brien said...

This man was one of my hero's...he both inspired and educated me with his published works and his wisdom..he was and is a Warrior for the People!..I will pray that his final journey is swift, and it comforts me that he is now at peace and with his ancestors..
Smoke and prayers go up for his family...
thank you for honoring him!
Kris Turns Around Woman

At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Tom Laughingwolf said...

Vine Deloria has been an inspiration to me for most of my life. His works and his efforts on behalf of all Native Peoples have all made me proud to be an American Indian. They have inspired me so very much. I am glad you're honoring such a wonderful, brilliant man. He was awesome. His family and friends will be in my prayers and thoughts.
Uyetsasgvi Wahya

At 11:45 AM, Blogger PaganMustang said...

This well respected and much loved brother will most certainly be missed by many. I am so thankful we have his writings to help us in our journeys as we find our ways. May his journey be blessed, his Ancestors be pleased to recieve him, his Wisdom take root in the hearts of many and may his Descendants make him proud.

Candy Guritz
WA state

At 4:44 PM, Anonymous Wepunkweteme said...

I send up my smoke today to The Great Mystery, Our Creator.
I pray our Brother takes his journey well.
My condolences go out to Vine's family from All of Us at American Indian Injustice Group.
La`pich Knewel,
(i will see you again)

Thomas Greywolf

At 8:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vine Deloria did so much for the People. His works inspired so many, and they continue to inspire those that read his works for the first time. I hope that we, the People of Turtle Island have yet another Deloria to write and to inspire the youth of today as well as tomorrow. May his trip to his ancestors be peaceful and quick.

David Antonio Gurule

At 1:04 PM, Blogger Dornell said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:09 PM, Anonymous Sandra "Sammy" Toineeta said...

I am embarrassed to be doing this so late. My only excuse is that I had knee surgery and moved during the time his death was being announced and was just now able to connect to my computer.

I would like to add these to the many movements that would not exist today without the intellect and analysis of Vine. Without his brilliant far sightedness, we would not have come so far in our defense of Indigenous spirituality and sacred sites and the environmental movement would be years behind where it is now.

I had the rare priviledge of sitting on a panel that was designed to critique some of his works. I went to the podium with sweating hands and shaking knees, but two Sioux's will always connect and he shot humorous comments to me from his seat and made me feel like someone important.

As a fan from the publication of his first book, I cannot express how much I will miss him, his humor and his exceptional writings.

Sammy Toineeta

At 11:32 PM, Blogger Quiz said...

On a personal note, Vine Deloria Jr. was my history seminar professor. I was a young, naive and cynical kid - Professor Deloria helped me to focus some of my anger and intellectual cynicism. I realized there was something that could actually be done in this world. He told me not to get emotional - he said to stay focused on the facts and the logic, while never forgetting that something more profound hovers around us and in us. Professor Deloria'a books will be treasured on my bookshelf and my memories of him will always inspire me to improve both myself and the world around me.

Steven M. Quesinberry

At 7:33 AM, Blogger arkichief said...

Mr.Vine Deloria is and alway's will be an inspiration to me.


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