Deloria, Vine

Alternative names
Birth 1933-03-26
Death 2005-11-13

Biographical notes:

Vine Deloria Jr., author, theologian, historian, lawyer, and community organizer was a member of the Standing Rock Sioux. Born on March 26, 1933 in Martin, South Dakota near the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux Reservation, he was the grandson of Tipi Sapa (Black Lodge), also known as Rev. Philip Joseph Deloria, an Episcopal priest and a leader of the Yankton band of the Nakota Nation. Deloria's father, Vine Sr. (1901–1990), studied English and Christian theology and became an Episcopal archdeacon and missionary on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, to which he transferred the family's tribal citizenship. Deloria Jr.'s aunt was the anthropologist Ella Deloria (1881–1971).

First educated at reservation schools, Deloria graduated from Kent School in 1951. After serving in the Marines from 1954 through 1956, he graduated from Iowa State University in 1958 with a degree in general science. In 1963 he earned a masters degree in theology from the Lutheran School of Theology in Rock Island, Illinois.

Rather than joining the ministry, Deloria became executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, the largest intertribal organization in the United States. From 1964 through 1967 he lobbied Capitol Hill, worked to build tribal coalitions, and fought religious and political repression on the reservations. Under his leadership, membership in the NCAI grew from 19 to 156 tribes.

In 1969, Deloria published Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto, the first of more than twenty books and 200 articles he would write or edit on matters concerning Native Americans. A year later he received a law degree from the University of Colorado, and began his academic career at Western Washington State College at Bellingham, Washington.

While teaching at Western Washington State College he advocated for the treaty fishing rights of local Native American tribes and worked on the legal case that led to the historic Boldt Decision of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. In 1977, he became a board member of the National Museum of the American Indian.

Deloria became Professor of Political Science at the University of Arizona in 1978. Over the next twelve years he established the first master's program in American Indian Studies in the United States. From 1990 to 2000, Deloria taught American studies, law, history, religion and political science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In 2000 he returned to Arizona and taught at the School of Law.

Vine Deloria Jr., died on November 13, 2005 in Golden, Colorado.

From the guide to the Vine Deloria papers, circa 1969-2005, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)


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