From the most widely read Native American intellectual comes a book that searches for the structure and meaning of reality. Synthesizing ideas from some of the most eminent philosophers of modern times- ideas that have hitherto been given only a perfunctory examination- Vine Deloria Jr. juxtaposes Native American thinking with Western thought.
One of Deloria's most controversial books, The Metaphysics of Modern Existenceemphasizes that Native Americans have consistently perceived their realities experientially, confronting the reality of the experience, whereas Westerners often hold academic learning and theories above experience. This difference in perception and thought has had and continues to have very real environmental and political ramifications, not to mention personal and social consequences. Deloria's Metaphysics adroitly answers the often unasked question: what does an Indian think about the modern world.
Vine Deloria, Jr., a lawyer and theologian, known to many as the leading American Indian intellectual of the 20th century. Deloria, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, was born in 1933 in Martin, South Dakota, near the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Deloria taught at a number of universities before accepting a position as Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Arizona in 1978, where he helped create a master's program in American Indian Studies. Since 1990 he has held appointments in a number of disciplines at the University of Colorado.
Deloria was a giant in the realm of American Indian policy. From 1964 to 1967, Deloria served as the executive director for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), reviving the organization and laying the foundation for its contemporary prominence. Under his leadership, NCAI’s membership grew from 19 to 156 tribes, became financially stable, and brought its platform of tribal sovereignty to the attention of Congress and the Executive Branch.
In 1969, Deloria published Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto, the first of more than 20 books he would write during his career. The book is considered one of the most prominent works ever written on American Indian affairs. The book asserted a vibrant Indian presence, drove the tribal struggle into the national spotlight, and became a centerpiece of the movement for tribal “self-determination,” a principle now recognized in tribal, federal, and international law.
Deloria’s publications spanned several fields including law, education, anthropology, philosophy, and religion. In addition to his own studies in theology, Deloria was the grandson of a medicine man and son of an Episcopalian minister, a heritage that he wrote about in Singing for a Spirit: A Portrait of the Dakota Sioux. In 1974, following the publication of his book, God is Red: A Native View of Religion, Time Magazine named Deloria one of the “primary movers and shapers” of Christian faith and theology. Deloria received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas in 1996 and the Wallace Stegner Award from the University of Colorado’s Center for the American West in 2002.