The Foremost American Indian Activist Exposes the Myth of Scientific Fact, and the Truth of His People's Oral Tradition
Email this review


 The first of a proposed trilogy attacking Western science, religion, and government. Deloria (History, Law, Religious Studies, and Political Science/Univ. of Colorado, Boulder; coauthor of The Nations Within, 1984, etc.) argues that Western science doesn't seriously credit the ``traditions and memories of non-Western peoples'' and because of that is downright erroneous or, at best, limited. He mentions, for example, that by ``seeding clouds with certain chemicals'' science can create rain, but that the more powerful medicine of a Sioux can drastically alter the weather in all ways. While these could be the sincere protestations of a fundamentalist American Indian, Deloria wants it both ways: He will not tolerate any scientific arguments against his traditional Indian beliefs, but he is more than happy to use those same methods against scientific theories. But his case is unconvincing, ultimately, because of his seeming lack of even the most basic understanding of his subject. Take, for example, Deloria's reading of the suggestion that the giant rhinoceros ``crossed the Aleutian bridge into Asia, probably along with palm, oak and walnut forests of Canada.'' Deloria writes, ``I have great difficulty of conceiving of [the forests'] means of locomotion''as though he were Macbeth waiting for Great Birnam wood to walk up to Dunsinane hill. Or perhaps he intentionally misrepresents the facts. But if Deloria's science is obscure, his political motives are clear: It's necessary to discredit theories of biological evolution and the Bering Strait crossing because they give Anglos an advantage in their colonial apologeticsas one woman said to him, ``Well, dearie, we are all immigrants from somewhere.'' Deloria should have stuck to his fundamentalist guns; his attempt to fight science with science is a dismal failure.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-684-80700-9
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1995