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Opinion: Deloria was always ahead of the curve

" In the late 1990s, as I was just entering journalism, I ran into [Vine] Deloria at a conference in Seattle. He was soaking up the warm summer sun and smoking a cigarette off by himself outside the conference. I reminded him of going to his house in Colorado as a kid and we talked for a while.

He handed me a copy of his book ''Red Earth, White Lies'' and autographed a copy for me, telling me it was an important read for anyone entering journalism. That book presents an alternate theory of the peopling of the Americas. To put it mildly, many scientists were skeptical of his theory because it flew in the face of established science, took aim at the Bering Strait theory, and called for a more complex picture of how the ancestors of American Indians came to be here and how science was making a mistake in discounting American Indian myths.

However, as I soon found out, this was typical Deloria being ahead of the curve. I followed up on his theories and eventually wrote a story that appeared in Indian Country Today that dealt with the Kennewick Man controversy. By that time, even Deloria's old intellectual sparring partners, such as David Hurst Thomas, curator in the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, were beginning to come around to Deloria's point of view.

This was the hallmark of his career: the iconoclast who would be proven the sage."

Get the Story:
James May: A personal retrospective of the extraordinary (Indian Country Today 11/17)

Indian Country Today Articles from January 10, 2005:
Wilma Mankiller: An original thinker with a warrior's spirit
Suzan Shown Harjo: Selective memories of Vine Deloria Jr.
Faith Spotted Eagle: Deksi (Uncle) Vine
Charlie Wilkins: Visionary thinker and wordsmith par excellence
Hank Adams: A Vine Deloria Jr. collaboration: The first decade
John Mohawk: Vine Deloria Jr.'s unfolding legacy
Philip Deloria: Tales of a remarkable father
Norbert Hill: A hero to many

Related Stories:
Vine Deloria funeral set for Friday in Colorado (11/17)
Tribal leaders recall Deloria as powerful advocate (11/17)
Opinion: Deloria introduced us to Indian Country (11/17)
Rick Williams: On the passing of Vine Deloria Jr. (11/16)
Editorial: Deloria changed how America views Indians (11/16)
Art Coulson: Safe journey for Vine Deloria Jr. (11/16)
Appreciation: Deloria an influential American (11/16)
Indian Country: In memoriam Vine Deloria Jr. (11/16)
Editorial: Deloria contributed to all Americans (11/16)
Vine DeLoria: Spoke for a nation of Natives (11/15)
Deloria hailed as 'visionary' for role in Indian affairs (03/11)
Jodi Rave: Deloria unknown because he's Indian (01/24)
Vine Deloria is ICT's American Indian Visionary (01/10)
Column: Vine Deloria refuses honorary degree (05/25)