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Deloria, Vine, Jr. 1933–2005

Deloria, Vine, Jr. 1933–2005

(Vine Victor Deloria, Jr.)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for SATA sketch: Born March 26, 1933, in Martin, SD; died of complications from an aortic aneurysm, November 6, 2005, in Denver, CO. Activist, educator, and author. Well known as an advocate of Native-American rights, Deloria was a retired history professor and a legal expert on treaties between the U.S. government and Native American tribes. Born to the Yankton Sioux tribe of South Dakota, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves from 1954 to 1956, then completed a bachelor's degree at Iowa State University in 1958. The son of an Episcopalian minister, he studied theology at the Lutheran School of Theology, where he completed a master's degree in 1963. His interest in law led to his earning a J.D. from the University of Colorado in 1970. During the mid-1960s, Deloria worked as executive director of the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, DC; after he completed his law degree, he became chair of the Institute for the Development of Indian Law. Deloria was aware of the poor treatment native peoples had received from the U.S. government, both historically and in modern times, and he strove to make others aware of their plight. As an author, he made the news with his very first book, Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto (1969), in which he paints the famous colonel who died at the Battle of Little Bighorn in distinctly unflattering terms. Deloria went on to write many more books, including God Is Red (1973; 2nd edition published as God Is Red: A Native View of Religion, 1992), A Better Day for Indians (1976), For This Land: Writings on Religion in America (1998), and the coauthored Power and Place: Essays in American Indian Education (2001), but he would always be best remembered for his first title. Deloria entered the academic world in 1978, when he joined the University of Arizona faculty as a professor of political science. He remained in Arizona until 1990, when he moved to the University of Colorado to teach until his 2000 retirement. Throughout the years, Deloria was a prominent voice for Native Americans, making issues involving Indians and the law, ethics, history, politics, and culture better known to the American public. For this important work, he received such honors as the 2002 Wallace Stegner Award and the 2005 American Indian Visionary Award. At the time of his death, he had just completed two books, the first about Native-American medicine men and the second on psychiatrist Carl Jung and the Sioux.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Chicago Tribune, November 15, 2005, section 2, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, November 15, 2005, p. B8.

New York Times, November 16, 2005, p. A21.

Washington Post, November 17, 2005, p. B7.

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