A Standing Rock Lakota citizen, Deloria was arguably the most intellectually gifted and articulate spokesman for Indigenous nationhood in the twentieth century. He was never quite comfortable with the notion that he was, in fact, the principal champion of tribal nations and their citizens, since he expected that each Native nation and every tribal citizen express confidence in their own distinctive identities, develop their own unique talents, and wield their collective and individual sovereignty in a way that enriched not only their own nations but all those around them as well.
For Deloria, freedom and justice could only be achieved when those wielding political, legal, and economic power acted with decency and integrity and had engaged in a thorough and honest examination of history. Of course, the dispossessed and disadvantaged in Deloria’s view also had an active role to play and he expected the leaders of those often put-upon communities to take the time and carefully articulate what the needs and goals of their constituencies were.
Copyright © 2015 Cairn Info. This article first appeared in Revue Française D’Études Américaines 3:144 (2015), 109-118.
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Wilkins, David E. “A Tribute to Vine Deloria, Jr: An Indigenous Visionary.” Revue Française D’Études Américaines 3, no. 144 (2015): 109-118.