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Red Earth, White Lies

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Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact
AuthorVine Deloria, Jr.
SubjectCreation beliefs of American Indians
GenreHistorical criticism
PublisherFulcrum Publishing
Publication date
Publication place United States
Media typePaperback

Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact is a book by Native American author Vine Deloria, originally published in 1995. The book's central theme is to criticize the scientific consensus which has, in his words, created "a largely fictional scenario describing prehistoric North America".


The book's particular focus is on a criticism of current models of migration to the New World, in particular the Bering land bridge theory. Deloria attempts to expose what he thought were fundamental weaknesses in this theory by detailing supposed archeological inconsistencies and positing alternative hypotheses that he believed align better with his understanding of the origins of Native Americans. He argued that there was an earlier presence for indigenous peoples in the Americas than what the archaeological record provides. In a similar vein, he criticized the so-called "overkill hypothesis", which proposes that humans migrating into the Americas were partially responsible, by overhunting, for the sudden and rapid extinction of North American megafauna during the Pleistocene epoch. Deloria believed that this hypothesis was racist; he contended that the Pleistocene extinction had no parallel on such a scale in Eurasia, which also experienced the sudden arrival of human hunters.

Deloria likened the dominant migration theory to "academic folklore" and contended that it even though it was regularly cited as fact, it was not critically examined within the field of archeology. Further, he charged that prevailing theories did not mesh with Native American oral traditions, which he contended contain no accounts of inter-continental migration. He argued for a Young Earth with only one Ice Age, for a worldwide flood, and for the survival of dinosaurs into the 19th century.


John Whittaker, a Professor of Archeology at Grinnell College, referred to Deloria's Red Earth, White Lies as "a wretched piece of Native American creationist claptrap that has all the flaws of the Biblical creationists he disdains...Deloria's style is drearily familiar to anyone who has read the Biblical creationist literature...At the core is a wishful attempt to discredit all science because some facts clash with belief systems. A few points will suffice to show how similar Deloria is to outspoken creationist author Duane Gish or any of his ilk."[1] A recent review of readings assigned to students in university programs for the study of Native American culture and in related fields suggests that this view of evolution, human origins, and migration to the New World has become widely accepted.[2]

Michael D. Gordin notes the book's close ties to Immanuel Velikovsky's cosmographical works, especially the revindication of oral myth and tradition as central to revising both history and myths' role in the study of history. Deloria had entered Velikovsky's circle in 1974, calling the psychologist "perhaps the greatest brain that our race has produced." Gordin concludes Deloria's rejection of the Bering land bridge and "attack on any affinity between Native tradition and Western culture and science" was derived from Velikovskian catastrophism, though Velikovsky himself rejected any hint of creationism.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whittaker, John C. (January–February 1997). "Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact". Review. Skeptical Inquirer. Vol. 21, no. 1. Archived from the original on 2020-09-01. Retrieved 2024-04-24.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: date format (link)
  2. ^ Francis, Norbert (August 22, 2017). "Chapter 7: Creationist pseudoscience in the American university". Bilingual and Multicultural Perspectives on Poetry, Music, and Narrative: The Science of Art. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. pp. 149–169. ISBN 9781498551847. LCCN 2017023884.
  3. ^ Gordin, Michael D. (September 17, 2012). The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. pp. 175–176, 268–269. ISBN 978-0-226-30443-4. LCCN 2012003653.