Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 34 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Custer Died for Your Sins.
This section contains 616 words
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Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto Summary & Study Guide Description

Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto by Vine Deloria, Jr..

This collection of essays, written by Indian activist Vine Deloria Jr., explores how Indians have been treated by white agencies (including churches and the government), documenting the effects of such treatment and proposing options for future action by Indian leaders. The relationship between whites and blacks is, in fact, the collection's central thematic perspective as well, placing his observations and commentary within two similarly thematic/narrative contexts - his portrayal of America as an essentially corrupt society, and the struggle of a similarly oppressed race, Black Americans, for similar respect and recognition.

The book is subtitled "An Indian Manifesto" and can be seen as serving the same essential purpose as other manifestos (proposals for action) - to awaken a particular segment of society (in this case, the American Indian) to the true nature of the circumstances in which it functions, and to options for transforming those circumstances.

Following a one-chapter introduction (in which he discusses both the myths and the facts of contemporary Indian culture and historical Indian circumstances), the first five chapters explore ways in which whites, whom the author defines as the Indians' principal oppressors, have attempted to destroy Indian culture and assimilate Indian individuals into white society. The first topic examined is the history and nature of termination (defined as the cessation of government financial support) which, the author suggests, has been the unspoken agenda of governmental agencies and the church alike for as long as they've been active in Indian affairs. The second and third focus on the activities of two interest groups, anthropologists and missionaries, who claim to be acting in the best interests of the Indian tribes with whom they work but who are, the author suggests, more self interested and self-perpetuating than anything else. Finally, he discusses how specific government agencies were first formed and then structured with the ultimate goal of ending Indian self-culture, essentially a more specific and detailed examination of the principles and purposes explored in the first chapter of this section.

The book's second five chapters explore different ways in which Indians have responded to whites' sometimes active, sometimes passive aggressive, efforts at cultural obliteration. The first point of focus is Indian humor, in particular its focus on self-deprecation, satire and irony. All three, the author says, serve to point up the seriousness of the issues facing Indians and their culture while at the same time make Indians and whites alike aware of both how serious and how dangerous the situation is on both sides. The second chapter in this section focuses on the parallels and differences in the situations of Indians and Black Americans, both of whom (as the author points out) have been oppressed by whites but in very different ways. This chapter also explores the author's suggestions for approaches that activist Indians should take compared with those taken by activist Blacks.

The third chapter in this section explores the nature and function of Indian leadership - its reasons for being what it is, how Indians and whites differ in their perspectives on how leadership should function and/or be perceived, and how Indians sometimes sabotage themselves and their own best intentions. This, in turn, leads to consideration and examination of how Indians function within the boundaries and definitions of modern society, which in turn leads to this section's final chapter - a consideration of how Indian affairs, both as a term and as a situation, should be re-defined.

The book's final chapter is an epilogue of sorts. Here the author explains his biographical and personal reasons for writing what he has, the repercussions he expects to face, and his hopes for the future of the Indian rights movement.

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This section contains 616 words
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