Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 29, No. 1, Winter 2009, pp. 000-000


Copyright 2009 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska- Lincoln


Here is a fine collection of eights essays on American Indian topics by friends and former students of Vine Deloria Jr. (Dakota/Lakota), the towering figure of our era among American Indian scholars and writers. While some contributions are more about Deloria's work than others, the whole collection is intended to demonstrate his influence on the thinking of scholars writing in American Indian studies today instead of merely placarding his prominence. Rather than simply praising Deloria, the volume continues his work. Anyone interested in the state of discourse in American Indian studies would benefit greatly from reading its contents. Most of the essays cover a discrete portion of the wide array of disciplinary topics to which Deloria himself paid attention, although the contribution by David Wilkins (Lumbee) usefully attempts to cover the greater breadth of Deloria's work.

The collection includes essays on the place of American Indian religious practice in the legal landscape of the "free exercise" clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a lucid piece that pushes beyond Deloria's own critique of the contested dialectic of evolution versus creationism and his own preference for Indian traditions about origins. Tom Holm (Creek/Cherokee) builds on Deloria's own critique of contemporary Indian leadership to press for a more traditional Indian community style. Nicholas Peroff adds a critical discussion of what he calls "complexity theory," applying it to the Menominees. Richard Wheelock (Oneida) critiques the "American story" as a mythic narrative that has affected and continues its powerful influence on U.S. Indian policy.