Vine Deloria Jr.

American writer (1933-2005)

Vine Deloria Jr. (26 March 19333 November 2005) was a Native American author, theologian, historian, and activist.

Quotes edit

  • Western civilization, unfortunately, does not link knowledge and morality but rather, it connects knowledge and power and makes them equivalent. Today with an information "superhighway" now looming on the horizon, we are told that a lack of access to information will doom people to a life of meaninglessness — and poverty. As we look around and observe modern industrial society, however, there is no question that information, in and of itself, is useless and that as more data is generated, ethical and moral decisions are taking on a fantasy dimension in which a "lack of evidence to indict" is the moral equivalent of the good deed.
  • All but one person I met who claimed Indian blood claimed it on their grandmother's side. I once did a projection backward and discovered that evidently most tribes were entirely female for the first three hundred years of white occupation. No one, it seemed, wanted to claim a male Indian as a forebear.

    It doesn't take much insight into racial attitudes to understand the real meaning of the Indian-grandmother complex that plagues certain whites. A male ancestor has too much of the aura of the savage warrior, the unknown primitive, the instinctive animal, to make him a respectable member of the family tree. But a young Indian princess? Ah, there was royalty for the taking.

    • Custer Died for Your Sins (1988), p. 2

God Is Red (1973) edit

  • Who will find peace with the lands? The future of humankind lies waiting for those who will come to understand their lives and take up their responsibilities to all living things. Who will listen to the trees, the animals and birds, the voices of the places of the land? As the long forgotten peoples of the respective continents rise and begin to reclaim their ancient heritage, they will discover the meaning of the lands of their ancestors. That is when the invaders of the North American continent will finally discover that for this land, God is red.
    • pg. ix
  • Before any final solution to American history can occur, a reconciliation must be effected between the spiritual owner of the land – American Indians – and the political owner of the land – American Whites. Guilt and accusations cannot continue to revolve in a vacuum without some effort at reaching a solution.
    • pg. 75
  • The idea that religion was conceived as originally designed for a particular people relating to a specific god falls well within the experiences of the rest of humankind and may conceivably be considered a basic factor in the existence of religion.
    • p. 204
  • The breakup of Christianity during the Reformation into national churches and the proliferation of denominations today would seem to indicate that a religious universality cannot be successfully maintained across racial and ethnic lines. ... Ethnicity will almost always triumph.
    • p. 209
  • Most tribal religions make no pretense as to their universality.
    • p. 210
  • The very conception of a Chosen People implies a lost religious ethnicity. Most likely religions do not in fact cross national and ethnic lines without losing their power and identity. It is probably more in the nature of things to have different groups with different religions
    • p. 293
  • Besides the importance of land and religion, the existence of a specific religion among a distinct group of people is probably a fundamental element of human experience.
    • p. 293

Misattributed edit

  • Religion is for people who’re afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who’ve already been there.
    • Commonly attributed to Deloria on the internet, or sometimes to a few others, but without legitimate sourcing, the earliest variant of this yet located is a single quotation in Awakened India Vo. 99 (1994) p. 327, ascribed to Fr. Patrick Collins, University of Notre Dame, USA:
Religion is for those who are afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who know they have been there — perhaps through involvement with religion.
The next variant located is ascribed to an anonymous member of Alcoholics Anonymous in Illuminating the Heart: Steps Toward a More Spiritual Marriage (1996) by Barbara G. Markway, p. 28:
Religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell; spirituality is for those who have been there.
A variant also occurs in The Higher Power of the Twelve-Step Program: For Believers & Non-Believers (2001), by Glenn F. Chesnut, Ch. 1 : Discovering a Higher Power:
Religion is for people who're afraid of going to hell; twelvestep spirituality is for those who've been there.

Quotes about edit

  • Vine Deloria in particular was a great influence to me. He was an intellectual and a writer that was, at times polemic, but he asked important questions of non-Indians. By reading Vine’s work, Custer Died For Your Sins, American Indian Policy in the Twentieth Century, God Is Red, especially these early works, I learned about my own questions that I wanted to ask in my work. He also gave me courage to perform and write.
  • Native scholars argue that the difference between Indigenous conceptions of the sacred and Western conceptions are their different orientations to time and space. Vine Deloria Jr., in particular, first articulated these ideas in his pioneering book God Is Red: A Native View of Religion (1973), and later built upon them in his theoretically dense The Metaphysics of Modern Existence (1979). In both works Deloria presents fundamental challenges to the Newtonian-Cartesian view of a mechanistic, linear universe.
    • Dina Gilio-Whitaker As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock (2019)
  • everybody takes for granted that equality under the State is what everybody wants. For Native people, that has never been their goal. Vine Deloria in 1969 said in his book, Custer Died for Your Sins, that “what we need is a national leave-us-alone policy.” He wrote his book in the middle of the Civil Rights, Black Panthers, and Black Power era, and he was very clear that what we want is not what you want. We don’t want equality, we want our treaties to be honored and our territories to be protected.

External links edit

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