Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Earlier today, just after I hit the upload button on my post about "The Big Indian," a colleague here noticed that the Edgar Heap of Birds signs outside our buildings were damaged. The sign shown here is from the opening of the exhibit. Here's the press release.

URBANA, IL -- April 7, 2009
Three signs that are part of the "Beyond the Chief" exhibit outside Native American House and American Indian Studies buildings were vandalized between Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon.

The damaged signs include the ones naming Meskwaki, Sac, and Potawatomi. The signs, located on the 1200 block of West Nevada Street on campus, are bent and permanently damaged.

"I find it distressing that this art exhibit which is meant to educate everyone on campus about the indigenous history of Illinois has been repeatedly targeted in this destructive way," said Robert Warrior, director of Native American House and American Indian Studies.

These signs are just the latest to be vandalized. On or about March 15, the sign featuring the Peoria tribe was similarly damaged.

The signs are valued at $10,000 each. To date, no arrests or citations have been issued in connection with the damage.

The signs are part of an exhibit by Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds and was designed to "remind the campus community whose land they occupy," according to the Native American House Web site. The signs represent 12 different indigenous peoples with homelands in Illinois.


Chris Rencontre said...

At 10K a pop, it might be time to install a camera or two...preferrably hidden, so the vandals could be brought to justice.

Anonymous said...

I think it's possible people don't know what the signs are... I go to school at the U of I and didn't know what they were until I googled it just now. No one i have talked to about it knew what they were either. Maybe they were just destroyed by a drunk idiot who would have vandalized any sign in the ground...

Anonymous said...

I just googled this too after receiving the massmail about the vandalism. I have walked past the signs multiple times not knowing the significance of them, why "Fighting Illini" is displayed backwards, etc. If there was a wide-spread acknowledgment of what the signs represent, and why they are displayed, (considering they cost that much), maybe spreading the word and talking about it will encourage people to learn more. Ignorance leads to conflict, so if people were well-informed, it could be possible this offense might have been avoided... multiple times.