Obituary: Vine Deloria, Jr., Champion of Native American Rights

November 15, 2005

Source: The New York Times

On November 15, 2005 The New York Times reported, "Vine Deloria Jr., a Standing Rock Sioux who burst into the American consciousness in 1969 with his book 'Custer Died for Your Sins' and later amplified his message through 20 more books about the Native American experience, died on Sunday, a family friend said. He was 72 and lived in Golden, just west of Denver, and had recently been hospitalized with an aortic aneurysm. Mr. Deloria, who was trained as both a seminarian and a lawyer, steadfastly worked to demythologize how white Americans thought of American Indians. The myths, he often said - whether as romantic symbols of life in harmony with nature or as political bludgeons in fostering guilt - were both shallow. The truth, he said, was a mix, and only in understanding that mix, he argued, could either side ever fully heal... Mr. Deloria often said he was writing for Indian audiences most of all, hoping, he said, to instill belief in a culture had been shattered by history, and by deliberate government policy."