Information, observations, and analysis from the James River valley on the Northern Plains-----
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Vine Deloria, Jr., the Standing Rock Sioux who became an intellectual and literary force in liberating American Indians from the European mentality, died Sunday in a Denver hospital from complications from an aortic aneurysm. He was 72.
We knew him as a writer who took up issues of cultural criticism from a perspective that transcended the cliches imposed by the conquerers who dispossessd the American Indian people of their land and their culture. He addressed issues with an insistence on a cultural equality to which Euro-Americans sometimes gave lip service but were incapable of apprehending.
We also knew Vine Deloria, Jr., as a seminary student at the Lutheran School of Theology which shared a campus with Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. (The seminary relocated to the University of Chicago campus shortly after the Augustana Synod of the Lutheran Church merged into the Lutheran Church in America, which later became the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.) Vine obtained a Master's Degree in Theology from the Seminary. During his time as a student there, he lived in Moline, the neighboring town, where he worked in an automobile body shop to support himself.
Vine Deloria, Jr., understood how the dominant culture had appropriated the indigenous culture as the basis for the better features of American democracy. His friends from the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa will recall him as a man who lived his life according to the highest definition of what it is to be an American.