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Vine Deloria, Jr.

Hunkpapa Lakota
(1933 - 2005)

Vine Deloria

Vine Deloria, Jr., of Standing Rock Sioux origin, was born in South Dakota near the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux Indian Reservation. After being educated at reservation schools, he graduated from Iowa State University in 1958. Deloria went on to receive a master's degree in theology in 1963 from the Lutheran School of Theology in Illinois and a law degree at the University of Colorado in 1970.

He began his career as an eloquent and often highly provocative spokesperson for Indian identity and social change while working at the National Conference of American Indians in Washington from 1964 to 1967.

In 1969, he published the first of more than 20 books, Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto. This book became one of Deloria's most famous works. In it, Deloria addressed Indian stereotypes and challenged white audiences to take a new look at the history of American western expansion.

From then on, through his books and his teaching, he remained in the forefront of those demanding that US governments live up to treaty responsibilities while Native Americans be allowed to develop along their own lines.

Deloria was involved with many Native American organizations and was a board member of the National Museum of the American Indian beginning in 1977.

Deloria taught at the University of Arizona from 1978 to 1990 and then taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

In 1999, he received the Wordcraft Circle Writer of the Year Award in the category of prose and personal/critical essays for his work Spirit and Reason. He was honorably mentioned on October 12, 2002 at the 2002 National Book Festival. Deloria also received the Wallace Stegner award from the Center of the American West in Boulder on October 23, 2002 and was the winner of the 2003 American Indian Festival of Words Author Award.

After Deloria retired in May of 2000, he continued to write and lecture until is death in November 2005.

Among Deloria's principal books:

 

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