Vine Deloria, fully Vine Victor Deloria, Jr.

Deloria, fully Vine Victor Deloria, Jr.

American Indian Author, Theologian, Historian and Activist

Author Quotes

Where Indian People had had a reverence for the productiveness of the land, whites wanted to make the land support their way of life whether it was suited to do so or not.

White has been abstracted into a magical nebulous mythology that dominates all inhabitants of our country in their attitudes toward one another. We are all prisoners of that mythology so far as we rebel against it.

Whites are inevitably torn because they have no roots, they do not understand the past, and they have already mortgaged their future. Unless they can renew their psychic selves and achieve a sense of historical participation as a people they will be unable to survive.

Religion is for people who're afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who've already been there.

Space… is determinative of the way that we experience things. Time is subservient to it [space] because to have time, there must be a measurable distance to travel during which time can pass.

The mechanized concepts of image, relevancy, feasibility, and efficiency are now being seen as gimmicks by which white America fools itself into believing it has created a culture. In reality, it has used these plastic devices to avoid the necessity of having a real culture.

The overwhelming majority of Indian people today have little understanding or remembrance of the powers once possessed by the spiritual leaders of their communities. What we do today is often simply a "walk-through" of a once-potent ceremony that now has little visible effect on the participants. The exercise of spiritual powers still continues in some places but lacks the definitive intensity of the old days.

The white man has not lost his soul. But he is so small-minded that he has confused his soul with God.

The white man has the marvelous ability to conceptualize. He has also the marvelous inability to distinguish between sacred and profane.

The white man is problem-solving. His conceptualizations merge into science and then emerge in his social life as problems, the solutions of which are the adjustments of his social machine. Slavery, prohibition, Civil Rights, and social services are all important adjustments of the white man's social machine. No solution he has reached has proven adequate. Indeed, it has often proven demonic.

These Indians are fierce, they wear feathers and grunt. Most of us dont fit this idealized figure since we grunt only when overeating.

Western civilization, unfortunately, does not link knowledge and morality but rather, it connects knowledge and power and makes them equivalent.

All the white man had succeeded in creating in his time on this continent had been a violent conglomerate of individuals, not a people. Being a people is more a state of mind than it is a definable quality.

When asked by an anthropologist what the Indians called America before the white men came, an Indian said simply "Ours.

As far as we could determine, white culture, if it existed, depended primarily upon the exploitation of land, people, and life itself. It relied upon novelties and fads to provide an appearance of change but it was basically an economic Darwinism that destroyed rather than created.

Culture, as Indian people understood it, was basically a lifestyle by which a people acted. It was self-expression, but not a conscious self-expression. Rather, it was an expression of the essence of a people.

Every society needs educated people, but the primary responsibility of educated people is to bring wisdom back into the community and make it available to others so that the lives they are leading make sense.

I looked at the moss-covered stones; some of them seemed to have the features of a man, but they could not answer me. Then I had a dream, and in my dream one of these small stones appeared to me and told me that the maker of all was Wakan Tanka, and that in order to honor him I must honor his works in nature. The stone said that by my search I had shown myself worthy of supernatural help. It said that if I were curing a sick person I might ask its assistance and that all the forces of nature would help me work a cure.

Never has America lost a war ... But name, if you can, the last peace the United States won. Victory yes, but this country has never made a successful peace because peace requires exchanging ideas, concepts, thoughts, and recognizing the fact that two distinct systems of life can exist together without conflict. Consider how quickly America seems to be facing its allies of one war as new enemies.

Religion cannot be kept within the bounds of sermons and scriptures. It is a force in itself and it calls for the integration of lands and peoples in harmonious unity. The lands (of earth) wait for those who can discern their rhythms. The peculiar genius of each continent, the placid lakes, all call for relief from the constant burdens of exploitation.

All species, all forms of life, have equal status before the presence of the universal power to which we are all subject. The religious requirement for all life-forms is thus harmony, and this requirement holds for every species, ours included… As long as the bond of life is respected, all species have value and meaning.

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Deloria, fully Vine Victor Deloria, Jr.
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American Indian Author, Theologian, Historian and Activist