Re: The _Red Earth, White Lies_ thread

Eric Brunner (
31 Jul 1996 15:16:35 GMT

[This was previously posted in the (detoured) Contact Period demographics
thread, subject "diseases and immunity", and is reposted with the new
subject line simply to obtain a clear point of origin within the Deja
database. There are no new additions.]

Eric Brunner ( wrote:

I intimated in my post of yesterday that I'm rather busy. I thank you for
providing the page number for the cite which Firl made reference to by way
of Holden. When I can find my copy of RE/WL, I'll read it. Pages 242-3 as
you mention. I would not mind undertaking a critical reading of the work,
from beginning to end, even with a poster who makes it challenging to
seperate personal remarks from textual criticism. I don't doubt that there
are many who have a vastly greater familiarity with European catastrophy
theories than I, who notice such items (one I missed) as the "vapor canopy")
(pp. 234-5, _REWL_), or have a greater familarity with European religions
and their texts. I do have a problem with finding, a priori, explinations
for texts external to those texts, when the text itself may suffice, but
given your interest in the text from some Catastrophist shindig, and the
possibility that if I work hard enough at seperating the personal from the
text I may learn something of use, to myself, and potentially to others,
Vine included, I'll read that any your comments as well. Any of your comments,
whether apparently intended to illuminate my failings as a scholar or those
features of a text which support more than a single reading.

I do retain a few control concerns however. I don't want to confuse myself
or any readers (if any), so please come up with some other thread title, as
this isn't even remotely about the human ecology of contact of isolates and
their pathogenic exchange. I also haven't the slightest interest in the
rambling mediocracy of Gerold Firl's, or Ted Holden's minds, so I'd like
you to take on the task of re-writing any "Bash Deloria" post you'd like me
to read and respond to. I will ignore them in the interest of keeping my
time spent as usefully as my capabilities permit.

One other control concern. There is another Deloria who is an anthropologist.
She happens to be related to Vine. To prevent confusion, please use "Vine"
or "Vine Deloria, jr."

: I'll look forward to an appropriate expression of your gratitude.

I'll ask Peter to spot you a beer. I can repay him next January in Anaheim.

As opening points, I'll take your questions below. When you start your new
thread, please repost this so that we can both have a reasonably useful
record via Deja.

: > What is odd here is the narrow, even perverse focus on a rather minor
: > part of Vine's work.

: Are you asserting here that _REWL_ should be seen as having a marginal
: position in Deloria's larger body or work (which is not what I understand
: your position to be, but which I have no quarrel with), or are you asserting
: that his rather fundamentalist adherence to Velikovskian ideas played only
: a margin role in his discourse in _REWL_?

It is his latest work, and the first part of a three-part work which has as
some part of its still-evolving theme religiousity in the context of the
Conquest, where, from an Indigenous perspective, all Native intellectualisms
are systematically depricated by the intellectual hegemony of the Conquest.
At least, that is my understanding of Vine's intent at this time.

As a work it is in my own opinion, and that of at least one other reviewer,
that it is not as central to Vine's opus as a Native intellectual as his
earlier work, in particular, "God is Red". I also have the opinion that it
is poor method to approach the work through its conclusions, though I take
your point that you believe that Vine has a systematic Catastrophist bias
toward his primary texts, without careful examination of those texts. There
are a number of minor weaknesses as well, Vine appears to have a limited
exposure to the processualist/post-processualist, modernist/post-modernist
literature of the past two decades.

: > When the Aluminum Chappeaued Contingent cite the
: > rather apocraphal "endorsement" of another brand of catastrophism
: > (entirely Euro in its social construction) by Albert Einstein in his
: > dottage, there is no derision of his opus, or election of catastrophism
: > to received wisdom.

: Probably because (1) people would prefer to deride him for his rejection of
: probabilistic interpretations of QM or his insertion of the Cosmological
: Constant into GR in order to avoid an expanding Universe, (2) the
: "endoresement" is, as you say, largely apocryphal, and (3) the depth of his
: commitment to the ideas is rather unclear.

Note that to creditably hold an opinion on Albert Einstein and catastrophism,
on two of three counts the opinion holders are tasked to have some real sense
of familiarity with more of his life work, even if only symbolic.

: > Why is Vine different?

: Perhaps because, unlike Einstein who was (as you so kindly phase it) "in his
: dottage" when dealing with Velikovsky and Hapgood, Deloria appears to have
: been a committed Velikovskian ever since he visited V. in Princeton in 1964,
: shortly after flunking out of the Colorado School of Mines (largely, according
: to his Velikovsky symposium talk, because his casual observations during his
: "days as a boy on the Pine Ridge reservation, hunting rabbits and prairie
: dogs" convinced Deloria that he knew more about the process of fossil
: formation than the profs there did).

Note that Vine Deloria, jr is not a European. It is quite possible that there
is a subtext of legitimacy. Indeed, it is exactly the subtext of legitimacy
which the author of RE/WL specifically attempts to address.

You touch on an issue that was discussed in ARCH-L a few months ago, the
non-negocible requirement expressed by Marti Latta for all anthro students
at her institution to accept palentology concepts as a precondition to
institutional sucess (usually a diploma). Professor Latta wrote:

The First Peoples in question utterly reject the concept of human
origins in Africa and the Bering Land Bridge route, and someone
raised charges of racism when the archaeologists tried to offer
their own perspective on human origins

As the overwhelming bulk of all US and Canadian (Prof. Latta is at the
University of Toronto) anthropology departments produce cultural anthros,
the logical necessity of the requirement of a belief in Beringia appears
absent, and absent a logical necessity, the imposition suspect. Please
see the thread "undergrad curriculum?" in the ARCH-L archives of April of
this year. I trust you see the problem of doing cultural anthro work that
is cognizent of whether Paleo's walked, swam, or took the bus to get "here",
hence the dubious utility of making this, palentology, part of the general
cultural anthro's tool kit. Personally, I can't understand making literacy
take second place to palentology, except in a Colonial context of control.

It does seem to task the imagination that institutional sucess at the
Colorado School of Mines several decades ago required explicit affirmation
of belief in post-Biblical geology, as that institution has been more than
just a school for mining for most of the post-WW2 period. However, this is
not the main point, I hope.

: Not to mention his continued belief in the basic theory V. outlined in
: _Worlds in Collision_ and his other books in total disregard of the mass
: of evidence against it, which makes him a bit of a fringe figure even
: within that community, and raises some questions regarding his competence
: to make valid judgements or criticisms in scientific areas.

I take it "his other books" refers to other works by Vine. For clarity
could you list any you were referring to? I certainly don't know what
titles you've in mind.

: > Let me know when you get around to reading "Red Earth, White Lies", or "God
: > is Red", there are better things to do than tease catastrophists for their
: > weaknesses. There are also more productive things to do than ask if people
: > have actually read Kuhn for that matter.

: Just dug it out of the sorting shelves tonight. Let me know when you get
: around to reading his talk at the Velikovsky symposium. Then we'll both
: be in a position to make informed arguments about the relationship between
: the two texts instead of only one of us being is that position.

I understand, I think, your interest in the relationship between the text
of his talk, and possibly the rest of the Velikovsky/Hapgood/... corpus,
and the RE/WL text. My interest is in the primary Native texts which Vine
uses. Are his uses good ones (from a common academic critical frame of
reference)? Are his uses good ones (from a Native perspective)? Have other
texts (European, but others are possible as well) a significant role in the
construction of primary texts which Vine has put forth?

Our interests overlap somewhat, it is useful, IMO, to state where there is
a common interest, and where there isn't.

: > Note that the very best minds in the two areas mentioned below have no
: > problem with identifying errors of theory and method in their respective
: > disciplines, and the phrase "all wrong" may be Vine's rhetoric, and it
: > may also be Ted Holden's, and it may even be Gerold's "best effort" at
: > summary of a position he views with something less than genetic
: > predisposed enthusiasm.
: >
: > evidence that biological evolution and scientific archeology were
: > all wrong.

: If the only thing you'll settle for is a citation of the form "I think
: biological evolution is all wrong", then I may not be able to oblige. His
: rejection of the geological column (pp. 236-7, _REWL_), his claim that Native
: American oral traditions establish that most mountain building occured while
: humans were around to witness it (not to mention the old Creationist stand-by
: "vapor canopy") (pp. 234-5, _REWL_), his claims that Indian oral traditions
: appear to be describing dinosaurs (thus claiming that humans and dinosaurs

Again, there are primary sources to refer back to, that, rather than his own
beliefs, is every author's presumptive intent to convay.

: were contemporary) (pp. 240-245, _REWL_), plus statements in his Symposium
: talk like

: "The doctrine of evolution thus leads directly to the Bering Strait theory and
: now, in a bizarre twist, has led to the Big Game Hunters megafauna-cide. It
: seems quite obvious to us that immense tidal waves of catastrophic nature
: deposited all kinds of animal skeletons all over the world. Orthodoxy,
: however, insists that the animals "migrated" across dozens of mythical land
: bridges in order to leave their fossils on different continents."

Please try and understand that there are some well-known ideas floating
about in the Conquest aculturated. One of them is wastage -- the megafaunal
extinction due to bad (paleo)Indians... It is possible to both hold that
Beringia is most consistant with the record, and that wastage is just more
Conquest kookery, at the same time. Most modern archy's doing paleo work
hold this view rather than the previous dominant view of Beringia+wastage.

I don't know of a single Native who doesn't respond viserally to wastage,
or to other equally pejorative constructs of the dominant culture. I also
don't know of a single academic institution that is intellectually capable
of recognizing "hate speech" that is less overt than the continuing use of
such terms as "Woods Nigger" or "Plains Nigger" or "Salmon Nigger" either,
Stanford included. I trust you know the part of RE/WL to which this refers.

: and

: "Now we are seeing a few younger Indians become interested in connecting
: tribal traditions to outside bodies of knowledge. I fear that for the most
: part they will follow orthodox thinking and become apologists for mainstream
: thought, supporting evolution, the Bering Strait and other fictional
: enterprises in order to gain favor with establishment science."

Isn't facile accomodation a general precondition for sucess? Isn't it the
duty of every Traditional, mistaken or not, to attempt to provide the best
cultural alternative to suicide? That is, BTW, why I work on syllabic support
in POSIX operating systems.

: would appear to support the claim the he rejects evolution (based in part on
: the questionable logic in the claim that "the doctrine of evolution thus leads
: directly to the Bering Strait theory and now, in a bizarre twist, has led to
: the Big Game Hunters megafauna-cide.")

Agreed that there are logical problems in such a chain of inference, and I
trust that you will make these so plain that even I can see each and every
broken or weak link.

: > Feel as free as the air when posting to USENET Karl, and reach any
: > conclusions you feel are the best ones for you.

: Thank you so much for your permission, Eric, you can't imagine how much it
: means to me.

Oh well, I suppose the sci.arch.mod fight was not something either of us
will get over, or look forward to the repeat of any time soon.

Enough for today.

Eric Brunner

Eric Brunner