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Honoring of Elders

A Sad Passing.... Vine Deloria, Jr.

Vine DeloriaSunday, November 13, 2005
In Honor of Vine Deloria, Jr. (1933-2005)

The great indigenous visionary, philosopher, author and activist Vine Deloria, Jr. passed over to join his ancestors today, November 13, 2005. Our thoughts and prayers go to his wife, Barbara, to his children and his other relatives. The passing of Vine creates a huge intellectual and analytical void in the native and non-native worlds. He will be greatly missed.

It is appropriate on this website to reflect on the meaning of Vine's contibutions to indigenous peoples' resistance, and to reflect on our responsibilities to maintain and to advance the lessons that Vine gave to us. It is safe to say that without the example provided by the writing and the thinking of Vine Deloria, Jr., there likely would have been no American Indian Movement, there would be no international indigenous peoples' movement as it exists today, and there would be little hope for the future of indigenous peoples in the Americas.

Vine Deloria, Jr. was a true revolutionary when he wrote "Custer Died for Your Sins" in 1969, the first of his scores of books and scholarly articles (for a partial bibliography of Vine's important books go to:

He had the courage and the vision to challenge the dominating society at its core. He was unapologetic in confronting the racism of and policy, and he was prophetic in challenging young indigenous activists to hone their strategies.

We will write much more about Vine in the upcoming days. He was our elder statesman and mentor. For now, we will share this passage from "Custer Died For Your Sins," as a reminder of our responsibilities, and to ensure that we are more deliberate and strategic in our resistance.

"Ideological leverage is always superior to violence....The problems of Indians have always been ideological rather than social, political or economic....[I]t is vitally important that the Indian people pick the intellectual arena as the one in which to wage war. Past events have shown that the Indian people have always been fooled by the intentions of the white man. Always we have discussed irrelevant issues while he has taken our land. Never have we taken the time to examine the premises upon which he operates so that we could manipulate him as he has us."

-- "Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto," (1969) pp.251- 252

and this relevent passage regarding the example of the great Oglala Lakota leader Tashunka Witko (Crazy Horse):

"Crazy Horse never drafted anyone to follow him. People recognized that what Crazy Horse did was for the best and was for the people. Crazy Horse never had his name on the stationery. He never had business cards. He never received a per diem. *** Until we can once again produce people like Crazy Horse all the money and help in the world will not save us. It is up to us to write the [next] chapter of the American Indian upon this continent." page 272

For many of us, Vine was a contemporary Crazy Horse. Perhaps we squandered his time with us. We took him for granted, and assumed that he would always be with us. Now, the question is, not only will we produce more Crazy Horses, but will we produce more Vine Deloria, Jr.s?

Vine, we will miss you, but we will continue your work toward freedom for native peoples everywhere. Mitakuye Oyasin.

(For a partial bibliography of Vine's important books go to:
posted by Colorado AIM @ 7:27 PM

• • •

Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 09:50:25 -0800 (PST)

vine deloria jr. has passed away

A VERY BIG LOSS TO INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE WORLD--HE WAS and still is A TRUE WARRIOR--may we listen and read and think all that he has said and done in honor of him forevermore---EULYNDA


I am writing to share some sad news. Phil's dad passed away early yesterday morning. We were in Chicago, where Phil gave a talk at Humanities Festival.

We got a call about 11:00 pm on Saturday night to find that Vine had been rushed in for emergency surgery. He survived the surgery but already weak from two major operations, in the last few months, he passed due to complications from a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Many of you knew Vine and many of you knew of him. While we are saddened by this loss, we take comfort imagining him finishing his latest book, starting on a new one, smoking an unfiltered cigarette and listening to cowboy tunes! He was truly a man who made a mark!

You have offered us so much support over the last few months and for that we are most grateful. Thank you for your ongoing kind thoughts and best wishes.

Memorial arrangements are pending. Contributions, in lieu of flowers, are suggested to:

Vine Deloria Scholarship Fund
c/o The American Indian Scholarship Fund Attn: Rick Williams
8333 Greenwood Blvd
Denver, CO 80221



• • •

Christopher Lindsay Turner
Cultural Research Specialist
Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of the American Indian
4th & Independence Avenues, SW
Washington, DC 20560
Phone: 202-633-6912

Call for Papers: Vine Deloria, Jr. Memorial Panel

"His Body of Work, in Memoriam: Vine Deloria, Jr."

Native/Indigenous Studies Area
2005 Southwest/Texas Popular Culture/American Culture Association

February 9-12, 2005
Southwest/Texas Popular & American Culture Association's
26th Annual Conference in Albuquerque, NM

Paper proposals are now being accepted for a panel dedicated to the breadth of work and teachings of Vine Deloria, Jr. in the Native/Indigenous Studies Area. Given the immediacy of this since his very recent passing, I'm happy to accept titles and very short abstracts for submission. Ideas can be fleshed out more later on. This will be a permanant panel for this conference.

The deadline for submitting proposals is December 1, 2005. Inquiries regarding this area and/or abstracts of 250 words may be sent to Sara Sutler-Cohen at the email below. Please forward this email to people who would be interested in participating.

Sara C. Sutler-Cohen
Contact phone: 503.231.1719

Ya'at'eeh WSDP supporters: Passing of Elder - Kee Shay, a Big Mtn elder and an advocate against relocation, passed away on May 11th. The burial will be at his place(info from wife-Mae) south of Big Mountain, on May 17th, 10 AM(rez time) 9 AM (PDT 2005).

For more information, contact:


In loving memory Kii Shey 1918/1920 - 2005

"there are our children, even the babies..."

Kee Shay:

Today I'll be writing about what I remember and the way I see it in my mind and the way I actually have seen things with my own eyes. Today I'll be talking about that. Right now this evening I will be saying from here in the Big Mountain region what I have witnessed.

Here there were our ancestors, there are our children, even the babies. In this world our way of life has continued through generation after generation, we can't count how many. So it is and so it will continue into the future. So we need to consider the future of this land for the children. As the Creator made it, it has always been and so it will be for the future generations.

The Creator made this land for us and then we were put right here within the four sacred mountains. They are the San Francisco Peaks, Sierra Blanca Peak, Mt. Taylor and Big Sheep Mountain. That is the creation story that came through our grandparents. The mountains all have spiritual names. There are a lot of other mountains. Every one of them has prayers and songs. The Creator put them down for us when the Diné came into being. The Navajo wedding basket was given to us. The four sacred mountain bundles were given to us. These bundles came from the sacred mountains and became medicine for us. They have been with our ancestors always and were passed down. To this day the prayers, the songs and all other natural elements that are part of this earth gives us the connection to the spiritual world and they look upon us to this day. Even though the old people went on, the Creator still expects us to care for what we were given. That is this Black Mesa. We know these are sacred mountains and we have two here, Black Mesa which is the female and Lukachukai which is the male. We live on these mountains and we are the grandchildren of them. We are the only ones who know these ways. I don't think you in Washington can understand them. I don't think anyone will ever give us a good life except the Creator. Right now our prayers are through and within the Mother Earth. Also through the universe which is the sky our father that we pray to. The holy water we pray to, into the darkness, we pray, into the dawn we pray, then into the sunset we also pray. Every day we have sunrise and at night the moon. To these we have our prayers and songs. In the prayers we ask for humbleness. It seems like the U.S. government will never recognize us. It seems like the white man does not see us. At the time of your discovery of the Diné, you already knew they were the Diné. But to this day you hide from that knowledge. You have never recognized us as the human beings we are. From the white man there has never been acknowledgement of what has been done to the Diné. You hide from your own truth. You hide from the elders and the youth. That is the forced march to Fort Sumner. You made the people suffer. Along the walk you murdered them. You killed the women who were having babies. You killed the old ones, the hungry ones. That murdering and suffering went on for four years, 1864 to 1868. You did this to people you didn't even know, you didn't know how humble they were. When will you acknowledge what has been done to our people? When will it stop? From the days of white man's first invasion of North and South America you still in 500 years have not acknowledged the natives who lived here. There was only your own self-interest. Immediately you started to destroy our cultures. You came here for religious freedom, yet you classify us as low, low beings. You created poverty, hunger, helplessness, and disease among us.

When the land was given to us all things were in balance: the animals and the plants were given to us for food and medicine. The buffalo, the deer and the antelope. It was the Beauty Way. Then came the Europeans, dividing up the lands into states and counties, killing all the buffalo. Refusing to recognize the cultures that were here first.

"When will it stop?"

Now you are strip mining for coal which you are trying to sell overseas. You are taking the uranium out of the ground which was put there for the balance of the Mother Earth. You got wealthy on it. You got rich on it.

At one time there was high quality water in Black Mesa. Many natural springs that ran free. They were put there by the Creator for the people and the animals to use. Then the U.S. puppet Tribal government built walls and dams so now we can not use the water, the animals can not run free anymore. We used to have a lot of wood here, but because of the clearcutting on Black Mesa the wood is scarce. When we pray it is not just for one small area but for all over. To this day it is so sad to us that our ways are disappearing before our very eyes because white man refuses to really see us. The Creator still looks upon us. He knows it is not our fault these things are happening to us.

There are a lot of materialistic things that have been brought into our world which are hard for us to resist. The things that can destroy us are open to us in every white man's city. Alcohol, we don't know how to use it. We abuse it sometimes.

Here all our leaders talk about how we are going to have a good world, a good life. They tell our children they'll have good opportunities in the schools. They take them when they are barely 5 years old. Nobody in the schools tries to preserve our good ways of life, our medicine ways. Not the Tribal government and not the U.S. government. I never heard of a Tribal Chairman work to preserve his own culture. They tell us we are going to live in a good way in this nation, but it is not as they say. Nowadays we can't go to our sacred places because of government policy. I think this world is heading for purification of Mother Earth because we have messed up the environment from fossil fuels and the production of energy in our Four Corners area. It is destroying our culture, our ways of life. A lot of people have become refugees, they are confused. A lot of times there is no free speech or free press. You only recognize one government and you only listen to one side of the story. The one you think might benefit your government. They tell the Hopi that the land belongs to them now, but I don't think they will ever benefit by being out here. They will also get fooled by the U.S. government. The strip mining and the so-called economic development will not help the Hopi people. The government is just using the Hopi Tribal government as a puppet. Just as the Navajo have been helpless in the face of the bureaucrats so it will be for the Hopi. I plead for you to understand what I am saying. To all of you, the U.S. government, and the governments of the Navajo and Hopi: not until the day you all understand will there be healing for the people and the Mother Earth.

It is the abuse of the industrialized nations that has created the hole in the ozone. This they will not heal. Not any government will heal this hole in the universe. The only way is we have to pray from the heart, that we shed tears, maybe this is the only way to fix it. Only if the Creator has compassion for us. Maybe from that we will have a balanced world. This goes for everybody on the face of the earth including all of you. Maybe we will have a better world that way. The Creator might give us another chance. Forgive us for all our destruction. I can see we can still be blessed here on Black Mesa. There is still some balance here.

The abuse of Black Mesa water and the Colorado River. All these waters are going to the rich people on the West Coast. You should respect the first Americans. You came here as foreigners and now you are stomping on everybody and taking away all their rights. I'm sure the Creator does not like this. You are abusing the children, neglecting and destroying them. All you white men the nature warns you, the floods, hurricanes and big storms. If we can not bring balance back to nature, most of us might have to pay with our lives.

"You are abusing the children, neglecting and destroying them."

When you first came to the so-called New World, why did you come? For what purpose are you here? Were you helpless when you came? Over here you develop all kinds of weapons. Nuclear bombs. Now you threaten all of creation. You take your weapons to the land where the basis of Christianity was created. I'm sure there are humble people there. I'm sure they all suffer. I'm sure they want to live in a peaceful way. Now you are threatening them. You are having war with them. A lot of our young peop le are there with weapons in their hands. We Navajo served in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Panama and now in the Middle East. In return you don't think about us. You are destroying our ways. Yet we have helped you in your ways. We worry about our young people. It seems like we have no say over our own children. You just take them away. You do that with all the children, red, white and black. I'm sure all the parents are concerned for their children. It seems like the U.S. government has no mercy for the human race. The U.S. government should think humbly, he should think in a good way. What's wrong with living in a peaceful way with harmony among all people? We should all think in a good way between all the races. This way we will all have a better world. We are all special in different ways. We can have a beautiful world without the wars.

When our forefathers went to Fort Sumner, they laid down their weapons. They signed a treaty that we would no longer pick up weapons. Now the Navajo people are holding weapons in their hands to protect your oil interests. It seems like you force them to do this. I'm sure they are all humble. Go fix up your mind. I think you are out of your mind. Maybe you should reconsider yourself. Think back to 1868 when you took our weapons from us. When you reconsider this you will know you lie. Think about these words. I thank you for it.

There is really no peace among us and there is a lot of natural disasters in our world because we create these things for ourselves by our thoughts and our actions. Until the day we have peace among us, until the day you let native people live the way they want. That day everything will be good again with nature in balance. We should all think back into our hearts and act from that place. I just said what I think this evening. I hope these letters reach into your heart and all the hearts of the government.

We went to Washington, D.C., with a statement to deliver, but they didn't want us in Washington. They told us to take it to Phoenix, but they didn't want us either. It is now in a circuit court in San Francisco. Why do you have to refuse us? Not accepting us, not listening to us. All the Native Americans, starting with the Navajo. All the Native Americans will not be listened to. It seems like the white men will not listen to any of them. In a lot of ways they are poor, in a lot of ways they are suffering. You can see it right here. The government ignores them. The reason why I say this, I went to Washington where the White House is. When I went there I saw the beautiful houses and buildings you live in. They told me all the leaders here are doing their work. Then I saw on the streets people sitting on the sewer grates trying to keep warm. I saw all nationalities there. When I looked at them they looked really helpless. I felt sorry for them. They were there with their children. Why does the U.S. government not see the people there trying to keep warm? That's where the leaders are. I say to myself why do they not see this? Some of the people have no food, they aren't even eating, they are begging for change. They were just sitting there helpless. I thought to myself why are these people here like that? Where did they come from? What so-called progress put them there? I thought maybe someday when the white people come to our lands and build their cities our people will be like that.

What I've talked about and what I've said is what I know and is all I have to say. I hope you take it in deep concern.

Thank you very much.

• • •

In loving memory Kii Shey 1918/1920 - 2005

Go in Beauty, be in beauty forever... We shall miss your presence and words from the heart of your people, Dineh.

Danny Z.
Peabody Watch Arizona

Western Shoshone Grandmother Mary Dann Has Passed On

To Everyone who has sent such kind words - thank you and keep up your spirit - it's what Mary would have wanted. Following is a short personal statement by Carrie Dann on her sister's passing.

April 24, 2005

Crescent Valley, NV (Newe Sogobia). Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone Grandmother, activist and sister to Mary Dann (who passed away Friday evening at their ranch in Crescent Valley), issued the following statement today in response to the receipt of hundreds of emails and phone calls from around the world expressing their condolences and prayers for the family and for Carrie:

"We want to let people know that we are doing ok and we will be strong. There was a three day visitation for Mary beginning on Friday evening. Her body will be cremated and her ashes released to become part of the earth and nurture her and nurture life, as it was meant to be. You must remember she came from the earth and she is returning back to the arms of her mother, the earth. She has completed the cycle. This earth mother will cradle her forever. The wind will carry her body in all four directions those of us remaining here in the physical world we must be strong - stronger now for those who have passed ahead of us and those that who are yet to come. Mary believed in living her life for the protection of her family, the life - the sacred (the land, the air, the water, the sun) and for the future generations."

"We must remember that Mary stood proud, strong, dignified, respectful against all types of racial discrimination, desecration of her spiritual ways by the BLM, Department of Interior (who claimed to be her "trustee"). She stood up against the mining industry, the nuclear industry, the energy industry. Mary never took no for an answer but she stood her ground for what she believed in and for the Truth. Not because she wanted to, but because she had to. I will continue to do this, even with my sister gone. I believe in these things also."

"We must always remember the future generations and protect the sacred things so that the little ones coming behind us will be ok. The struggle will go on."

Advisory: Western Shoshone Grandmother Carrie Dann
to Speak in Seattle
May 5-7, 2005.
Protect Mother Earth & Nativ
e American Sovereignty

Seattle Central Community College

Carrie and Mary DannCarrie Dann is a Western Shoshone grandmother and activist, who, with her sister Mary, has been at the forefront of the Western Shoshone Nation’s struggle for cultural and spiritual rights and land rights. The Danns have squared off against international gold mining corporations, the nuclear industry and the U.S. government. Carrie Dann is considered a living legend in the struggles of Native Americans. This will be Carrie’s first public speaking engagement since the death of her sister Mary on Earth Day, April 22, 2005. In memory of her sister, her life partner, and their struggle for the rights of indigenous peoples, Carrie stated last week: “Mary would want us to be strong. She believed in living her life for the protection of her family, the life - the sacred (the land, the air, the water, the sun) and for the future generations… I will continue to do this, even with my sister gone. … We must always remember the future generations and protect the sacred things so that the little ones coming behind us will be ok. The struggle will go on."

My Relations;

Uncle Wallace Black Elk has gone to join his relatives in the far country. So at this sad time for my Black Elk relatives I want to send them my condolences on behalf of the warrior society of the ION (the Independant Oglala Nation of Wounded Knee). As people around the world mourn him as a healer and kind medicine man who served and doctored all who came to him, I would like to remember him and my Auntie Grace Black Elk as the special caretakers of all us who fought at Wounded Knee. I want to acknowledge how bravely he stood for his people and how well he served those us who were risking their lives in that sacred place. I say this on behalf of the warriors who know and I say this to all who would understand a traditional man of the People. Black Elk.

Let me explain how our Uncle came to be so special to the Warrior Society in the Knee. We had many wonderful holy men and Chiefs with us during the 73 day life of our Nation. Fools Crow, Red Cloud, Crowdog, Mathew King and Pete Catches of the Lakota and Phillip Deere and Horace Dauki from Oklahoma, to name only a few. Six Nations leaders and warriors, Ojibway, Ute, Maya, Dine', Apache, Hopi, Pawnee, Cheyenne, Hoopa and Warm Springs, Choctaw and Uchi, Cherokee, Omaha and Pottawatamie. All came to lend their strength and give themselves to the growing circle. It may be hard for non-Indians to understand but in our sacred ways our spiritual leaders give their sacred strength and blessing to the warrior society in their fight for the People. Their Pipe is for the Nation in war as well as peace. Wallace Black Elk was one of the first traditional men to join AIM and to lend his strength and knowledge in our struggle to survive.

Like never before since the Ghost Dance societies of a past generation, the Traditional elders of the Native Nations joined and endorsed the young warriors of AIM and our desire to rekindle the sacred fires of our people. Just like the rejuvenation of the Ghost Dance in the last generation by Wovoka and the bringing of the sacred fire by Quanna Parker of the Commanche to the Tribes incarcerated in Oklahoma, a great reawakening happened in 1973 at Wounded Knee. Turtle Island shook as the red giant rose from her knees to stand with pride once more. From the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, from North to South, red people decided to fight to preserve their Tribes. It was a glorious time in the history of our people, as Native People fought back from the brink of assimilation and denied the wasicu dream of our extinction.

In Wounded Knee a Traditional Society of the Nations was born and lived. Guided by those ones who had been taught and kept the old ways of our people, and most especially the powerful ways of the Lakota Nation, we put ourselves in defiance of those who would crush our people. We decided to fight for survival and that fight is still joined to this day. In the minds of the world we were a "vanishing race" an entire race of people consigned to the annals of histroy. But at Wounded Knee we stood to tell the world they were wrong and we intended to survive as a people for another five hundred years. We chose to make our stand at Wounded Knee where wasicu historians had said our red world had ended in 1890.

Inside Wounded Knee a society was born that depended on our elder traditional men and women to guide us and direct us on a path chosen by our ancestors. It was a circle of one mind and the work of the Nation was carried out by all. But at the same time a vicious enemy knew that the success of our struggle meant the end of the whiteman's dream that we would disappear and our red history end. They brought their army against our small beginning and they tried to erase our red dream. It became the task, as always in our history, for the young warriors to fight to protect the vision of the elders and leaders and people of the ION.

In the first days of the liberation the fighters and warriors stood strong and carried out thier duties while the leaders I named above took care of the business of the Nation. Fools Crow, Red Cloud, Crowdog, Catches and King led us in the red path we had chosen and spoke for our Nation to the world. And in the natural order of our ways it fell upon Wallace Black Elk and his beautiful companion Grace to minister to the needs of the young men and women of the warrior society of Wounded Knee.

We were a rag-tag group of young men and women from many tribes and nations from throughout this invaded land they call the new world. Our squad leaders and military planners were veterans of Viet Nam and Korea and our cadre were the youth of the red people. We could fight and we were willing to die without exception, but to be a warrior society in the old way we needed to be more than that, we needed the guidance of a wise man to differenciate us from the hired wasicu killers. So we turned to Wallace Black Elk to be that guiding teacher and his companion Grace to be our clan mother.

It was a rule among us for each patrol or squad to be cleansed in a Inipi and for each to pray for bravery and success in the old way. Uncle Wallace was called on to do this sacred thing for us, to make us worthy to fight and perhaps to die for our little nation. It became routine for us to gather at he and Grace's small two room cabin and for him to take us into a ceremony before we carried out our duties. But soon the wasicu blockade grew tighter and tighter and Uncle Wallace had to dig deep within himself to protect the warriors. Aunt Grace would prepare some food and Black Elk would prepare his Chanupa to ready us for battle and to face the enemy with courage. Let me give an example...

Once as we prepared to enter the inipi, the sacred grandfather rocks had already been heated and a dozen warriors were inside the lodge, the enemy began to fire on us and bullets were flying around us like mad hornets. My brother Vic and I were the last ones outside, just undressing after bringing in the rocks. When the enemy began shooting we started to get ready to run and told Wallace and the others inside... "they're shooting!" Let's go!" but Black Elk calmly looked out and said, "come inside nephews, don't leave". Quickly we jumped into the lodge and closed the door. Uncle began to sing and we all began to pray with him, we could hear the wasicu firing their M-16's and machine guns but nothing penetrated the thin covering of the lodge. Calmly, without fear or hesitation, Black Elk performed the ancient ceremony while the shooting continued and we could hear the gentle rain of the bullets falling upon the lodge. Soon we forgot them and sang, and prayed and learned to believe, in an hour maybe two the fight ended and we came out to continue our duties. The next morning the people came and looked at what had happened, women and children picked up hundreds of spent bullets laying around and upon the lodge and then strung them into necklaces as souvenirs.

As the times grew into weeks and months it got harder and harder for our patrols and supply trains to get in and out of the Knee. Again the warrior society turned to Black Elk and the old ways to help us do our duties. Each night we gathered at the little Black Elk house and told Uncle Wallace our intentions. Again he took us into a sweatlodge and told us how to become a part of the land and invisible to the enemy. Many times he would say, "Tonight you must travel towards that hill, stop under a particular tree" Wait there" he would say, "an owl will hoot four times, follow him and he will guide you through enemy line" "Do not talk but when you go two miles put this tobacco on the ground, say Pilamaye, and you will make it". He was never wrong and his Owl relation always came to help us, flying ahead, calling us forward from tree to gully to hill, until we were through enemy lines.

Those of us who followed the Owl and safely did our duties for the warrior society, owe our lives to our brave Uncle Wallace Black Elk and we owe our gratitude to the kindness and comfort of his companion Auntie and Mother, Grace Black Elk. On the final days of the Knee they were two of the last people to leave the Knee, they stayed for the people as long as they could. When they finally surrendered and left with the last of the people, the wasicu knew it was over. They abused my parents, they attacked them, stole their sacred objects, they tore the Pipe from their hands and shattered it in front of their eyes. They handcuffed our holy man and threw his wife on the ground. The whiteman ground their sacred Eagle Feathers under their boot heels and they laughed at their tears. They thought that they were attacking the heart of a defeated nation by hurting our brave and gentle medicine man and his Grace, but they were wrong, they were so very wrong. Wallace Black Elk had already passed his spirit to all of us who were priviledged to sit with him around the fire. He had already made it possible for our people to be proud in knowing we could fight and survive. Wounded Knee is still there, the spirits of Wounded Knee remain and so does my Uncle Wallace Black Elk... forever.


I am Ponca, I am Carter Camp and what I testify is true. Tomorrow join the warriors to see the Grandfather Sun rise in the East, tomorrow our Grandfather Black Elk walks to the West. Mi-ta-qu-ye-oh-ya-sin he said.