Thursday, January 18, 2007

Representation, Stereotypes of American Indians, "Chief Illiniwek"

Those of you familiar with UIUC know that its sports team mascot is "Chief Illiniwek" and that its sports teams are "The Fighting Illini." For many years, Native people on the UIUC campus and in the Urbana-Champaign community, and our allies have asked the University to stop using Native imagery for its sports program.

The regalia worn by the student portraying "Chief Illiniwek" was acquired from Frank Fools Crow in the early 1980s. He was Oglala Sioux. Details regarding how the University came to have the regalia are not clear. It may have been a gift, or it may have been purchased.

Pro-Chief groups at UIUC, including the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, maintain that this regalia is an endorsement and support for UIUC's "Chief Illiniwek".

Yesterday, the Executive Committee of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council passed a resolution asking that the regalia be returned to Fools Crow's family, and that the University cease use of its mascot.

We, at the Native American House on campus are authorized to distribute a press release and distribute the resolution. You can read the press release and resolution here:

Will the University return the regalia? The coming days will be revealing. The University claims it honors and respects Native peoples. That should prompt them to return the regalia immediately.

[Note on Jan 21st, 2007: If you are looking for information regarding the Facebook incident at UIUC, you can read about it at Inside Higher Ed: "Ugly Turn in Mascot Debate."]

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