[sixties-l] Deloria says Indians, whites face same crises

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Mon May 21 2001 - 16:59:56 EDT

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    Deloria says Indians, whites face same crises

    By Heidi Bell Gease,
    Journal Staff Writer


    RAPID CITY Those who expected Vine Deloria to talk about race
    relations at a Thursday Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon
    heard a different message instead.

    The noted educator and author of books such as "Custer Died for Your
    Sins" and "God is Red" spoke mainly about population trends and
    cultural changes.

    "It's always going to be a whole bunch of nuts on either side in race
    relations," Deloria said after the program, lighting up a cigarette
    outside The Journey Museum. "The problem's not with each
    other. It's with what's happening with the world."

    In South Dakota, Deloria said, projections show that within 10 years,
    20 percent of the population will be over age 65.

    "I'd be all over (Sen. Tom) Daschle like fleas on a hound dog to
    protect Social Security," said Deloria, a longtime professor of history
    and religious studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder. "We're
    dependent on the federal government out here. ... What, are you
    going to sit there and watch your parents starve?"

    He disagrees with the state's heavy reliance on property taxes, which
    hits the elderly hard.

    "If you people really want a revision, you should go to sales and
    income tax," Deloria, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe,
    said. "It should be obvious to anybody that you've got a crisis staring
    you right in the face, whether you're white or Indian."

    Statistics also show the Great Plains losing population. Deloria sees
    a solution: Learn to live with and through the buffalo.

    With recent scares over mad-cow disease "which would be a very
    useful contagion inside the Beltway in Washington, D.C.," Deloria
    deadpanned South Dakotans would do well to put more emphasis
    on buffalo. Ranchers could learn from Indians how to treat the animals
    with respect and develop the spiritual relationship between man and
    animal that doesn't exist in the cattle business.

    "You can't really admire a cow," Deloria said, "but you can admire a
    majestic buffalo."

    As for government, Deloria said no traditional Indian tribe ever
    governed 20,000 people. He advocates chartering lower-level entities,
    such as townships, to provide more responsive, grassroots leadership.

    No one likes government, he said. If he were a Martian studying South
    Dakota politics, he would conclude, "Indians tend to elect crooks.
    Non-Indians tend to elect morons."

    But he said most people don't know who is running things, "and the
    sad thing is, we really don't care." He said irresponsible citizens
    who don't demand accountability shouldn't criticize those who are

    Deloria also nailed American education, calling it "the biggest disaster
    anybody's ever seen."

    "Teaching was so painful a thing that I just decided to retire," he said,
    rather than accept a large salary to teach one class.

    In recent years, Deloria said he had students who knew nothing about
    American history or even about classic movies. He blames the
    educational system for not having teachers who know their subjects.

    Rather than make students attend classes, Deloria believes communities
    should decide what children need to know. When they know those
    things, they should move on to something else. "We're boring kids to
    death in schools," he said.

    Deloria's program, hosted by the chamber's Cultural Awareness
    Committee, was co-sponsored by Crazy Horse Memorial, state Rep. Mike
    Derby and Wells Fargo Bank.
    You may call reporter Heidi Bell Gease at 394-8419, or send e-mail to

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