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Thursday, Aug 31, 2006

Expect to hear a lot of cursing and moaning soon from just about every ex frat boy in the state.

After 80 years, Chief Illiniwek on Saturday will begin what is likely to be his last year of dancing at University of Illinois football games, university sources said.

The chief, who will appear at the season opener at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, will also dance at home basketball games this winter.

But after that, he will no longer be an official university symbol, the sources said

The Sun-Times also has a timeline of the Chief’s existence. According to the paper, the mascot was created in 1926.

My father once gave me a very old edition of The Illio, the official U of I yearbook, that he bought somewhere. My copy is from 1921, five years before the Chief was “created.” Back then, one of the officially sanctioned “inter-fraternity junior social organizations” on campus was the “Klu Klux Klan.” Here’s a scan:

Am I equating the Chief’s creators with the U of I chapter of the KKK (which I doubt is even the “real” KKK because it’s spelled differently, but you get the idea)? No. But it’s important to realize that there was pretty much no such thing as racial sensitivity back then. I doubt anyone cared in the 1920s if the Chief caused offense. We’re supposed to be different now.

Also, I’m perfectly aware that some Illini fans are gonna get all kinds of upset at me for this. So, again, I’m not equating the U of I’s officially sanctioned KKK chapter with the Chief. But I am suggesting that we should use it to think about the racial mores of the time period in which that currently racially controversial mascot was created. That way we might better examine the legacy that era has bequeathed us.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - El Cheapo - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 6:31 am:

    Cheap shot, Rich. Why don’t you just put a picture of Hitler up?

  2. - Proud Illini - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 6:38 am:

    Rich, you are basically race baiting here, shame on you.

  3. - annon. - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 6:43 am:

    The Chief …is a revevered symbol of the UofIll. I know of no-one dis-respecting the Chief or the heritage of the American-Indian. What will be next ??? It’s not racial sensativity. It’s a hand-ful of folks didn’t like , started the rock rolling & so there you go ! Half of Champaign-Urbana is going to have to re-decorate now as about half the town is orange, blue & the chief….then what the ban or make it illegal activty to possess a picture, image ect. of what has been the symbol of Illinois sports on the campus for 80 + years. {??} Maybe there will be public burning of these things in the street..???.. Farinheit 451 ??? Good golly !!!!!!!!!

  4. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 6:56 am:

    Race-baiting? You don’t see me dancing around a football field in phony Indian clothing. That would be race-baiting.

    And I didn’t post a photo of Hitler because I know of no officially sanctioned German Fascist Party at the U of I, and even if there was one, I don’t have a yearbook photo.

    Also, I noticed that there was no horror in your posts when you discovered that the U of I had a KKK chapter.

  5. - Anon - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 7:09 am:

    Rich: You found the one subject which can do something which never has, nor will ever again, unite The Gov’s team and the JBT team no matter where they stand on the issue of The Chief.

    I’d take this entry down right now. It will make our usual rants and attacks look mild. By the way, the KKK was at that time looked on as “civic group”. The U of I was not likely the only university the KKK had a chapter. Thank God they were gone in short order.

  6. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 7:11 am:

    Actually, the chapter was started in 1909, so it had been around for 12 years by the time the above photo was taken.

  7. - Anon - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 7:16 am:

    Thanks for clearing that up Rich about how long they had been there. It really is amazing. Just think, we could have been named the “Fighting Klansmen” and had a guy in a sheet dance at halftime.

  8. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 7:20 am:

    Oops. Make that 1906. Bad eyes.

    Also, Anon, I seriously doubt that any black people thought of the KKK as a “civic group” back then. That comment, however, proved my point about the racial mores of the times and how it should make us think about the legacy that era has left us.

  9. - Leroy - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 7:23 am:

    >Am I equating the Chief’s creators with the U
    >of I chapter of the KKK? No.

    Yes, you are. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t have their picture up in a post about the Chief.

    This sounds a lot like the ‘taxes kills babies’ anti-Duckworth propaganda ad that was up a few weeks ago. Way to take one from the Dupage County Republican playbook, Rich.

  10. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 7:26 am:

    Read the post, Leroy. Don’t just look at the picture.

  11. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 7:31 am:

    If the dancer was actually recreating an authentic dance maybe, MAYBE, the act could stay.

    Each dancer was required to add his own unique move. Over the years, with all the unique additions, the dance got to be quite ridiculous. Several years ago when the dancer added the basketball referee’s signal for the travelling call, I knew the act was about to close.

  12. - Leroy - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 7:32 am:

    And besides, the U of I has probably had a chapter of every fringe group out there: the KKK,
    communists, socialists, Black Panthers, Nation of Islam, neonazis, freemasons, mafias, etc

    That’s what Universities are all about.

    Picking out the KKK is intellectually dishonest.

  13. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 7:35 am:

    Leroy, we’re talking about a racial terrorist organization, or at least an offshoot, that was officially sanctioned. I have been through the whole book and I didn’t see any other crazy stuff like that.

  14. - RickG - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 7:47 am:

    “And besides, the U of I has probably had a chapter of every fringe group out there: the KKK,
    communists, socialists, Black Panthers, Nation of Islam, neonazis, freemasons, mafias, etc.”

    Sure, and they also have native american heritage groups.

    The Illinois “Black Panthers”, “Dashikis”, “Illuminati”, “Hitmen”, “Fuhrers” and “Stalinists”, along with their respective mascots, would be offensive. So would the “Crossburners”. Or the “Illini”.

    Are there varying degrees of insult? Sure. Does it matter? No.

  15. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 8:09 am:

    Banning Chief Illiniwek will instantly improve the lives of all those American Indians who have been forced to live on reservations.

  16. - So-Called "Austin Mayor" - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 8:09 am:

    “We’re supposed to be different now.”


  17. - Skarfeld - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 8:09 am:

    Rich. This might be off subject, but howsabout posting the names of those in the KKK chapter (it’s too blurry to read)? I’d be interested to know whether any of our storied Illinois political families names show up.

  18. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 8:21 am:

    Click the photo, Skarfeld. I uploaded a slightly higher rez version. You’ll have to zoom in yourself, however.

    I didn’t recognize any names, but aside from reading some books about Illinois during the time period in question, I’m no expert on who was who.

  19. - Skarfeld - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 8:33 am:

    Thanks, Rich. Nothing juicy.

    BTW, regardless of the “official” status of the Chief, I seriously doubt the Orange and Blue and the Chief won’t disappear on the homes or in the hearts of Illini fans, wherever they may be.

  20. - Anon - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 8:36 am:

    Rich -

    With this one risky post, you have probably summarized this issue with more clarity than any group for or against this ongoing issue. You’ll catch a lot of flak for that - but, you’re point is very appropriate.

  21. - Reddbyrd - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 8:36 am:

    Rich this is going to be a great day…I bet you go double, maybe triple century at this one. Since all the handwringers are worried about race why no flip through that yearbook and see how many pixs of minorities or even women appear!
    Have a great day…At least Southerr fans can only be accused of malnourishing a dog. :)

  22. - frustrated GOP - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 8:46 am:

    Ok, Rich the picture was a bit much, but point made. Yeah, probably not a lot of minoirties attending at that point. It’s unfourtunate that it was that inept organization NCAA that caused all of this. I think many of us Alumni would have prefered for the Univ to do this on it’s own schedule, which means it needed to have a schedule.
    For the record, on the spectrum of symbols and use of native American dance and forklore, I think the Chief is the last to go after how many others?

  23. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 8:50 am:


    Why no calls to get rid of the leprachaun at Notre Dame? It’s racially insensitive if it’s an Indian (or Native American), but if ir’s about Irish-Catholics, it’s fine?

    Where’s the consistency?

  24. - Anon - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 8:54 am:

    I understand the point you are getting at, Rich, but I still can’t help but feel it was grossly over the top. And as a point of fact, Chief Illiniwek’s costume is not “fake.” It was designed and constructed by Native Americans (In either the Dakotas or in the southwest. My memory is poor this morning– sorry!). While I understand that the Senate President and others has increased their pressure to end the Chief Illiniwek tradition and that pro-Chief advocates are growing tired, I honestly believe that it will be the courts who ultimately retire the Chief. Remember that there is still that lawsuit filed by the Native American Bar association still pending in the Cook County Circuit Court. It would be much easier politically to let the courts do the dirty political work.

  25. - The Horse - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 8:56 am:

    a- cheap shot on the photo, you could just as easily shown a stem cell research lab and asked the question?

    b- red herring / mountain vs mole hill… there must be more important things to resolve

    ahhhh the joys of a division 3 education

  26. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:01 am:

    Anon, that’s all you got? The Irish? People, I asked you to think a little about the past and how it relates to today, but almost all I get are talking points. Somebody even brought partisan politics into it.

    I’ve come to believe that the Chief is the one issue that we’re not allowed to discuss in Illinois without risk of being almost universally shouted down. Look how Gov. Blagojevich has run away from the issue, for instance. Woe unto anyone who would get on the wrong side of the U of I’s powerful alumni organization.

  27. - peter - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:02 am:

    You go Rich!!!!

  28. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:04 am:

    ===And as a point of fact, Chief Illiniwek’s costume is not “fake.===

    Does this look at all real to you?

  29. - zatoichi - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:05 am:

    Not an Illinois alum, but it seems the Chief will now appear at Illini events as someone on a dare or as an alternative to the streakers. What a waste of effort over political correctness.

  30. - moderate - half way between crazy and crazy. - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:10 am:

    you seem a little hostile to the cheif rich.

  31. - Woe is us - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:13 am:

    I’m sorry but the dancing “chief” does not seem to me as a dignified way to honor the millions of Native Americans systematically eliminated by disease, displacement, and “progress” in the name of manifest destiny. We wouldn’t condone depictions of “mammy” or characters in blackface running around at halftime, so why should we accept the chief?

  32. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:13 am:

    Rich, the costume is a traditional Titonwan Lakota regalia sold to the University marching band by Chief Frank Fools Crow.

    Hey Rich, if Chief Illiniwek is hostile & abusive, what say you about Chief Osceola at Florida State? The NCAA says that Chief Osceola is not “hostile & abusive” because the Seminole tribe get cash money from Florida State as a consideration.

    So if Illinois ever plays Florida State in the BCS title game in college football, Illinois can’t have Chief Illiniwek perform but Florida Staet can have Chief Osceola perform. Sounds like Burton Natarus-esque logic!!!

    So if

  33. - Logical GOP - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:14 am:

    People grow up!! I love how everyone sits around and discusses how eliminating “potentially offensive” material will help solve racial tension!! Native Americans are not even the one’s who were offended by the materials. Irish Catholics are not offended by the Notre Dame Leprechan and dog lovers are not offended by the Georgia Bulldog. Rather we rally around it.

    What’s worse is now the “know what’s good for everyone - liberals” are deciding what’s appropriate. That is truly scary!

    A symbol of ethnicity, race, culture, religion, etc… is not offensive- it provides a “community” a point to rally around and be proud. Similar to a country’s flag.

    As far as the KKK (if it’s the real KKK - I wouldn’t doubt that it is) being at UofI - it’s not a surprise, University campuses are breeding grounds for controversial organizations or “civic groups” at that time. Still are today. What’s important is that at the time maybe the group served a purpose- however now it doesn’t and it’s gone!! Allowing people (or liberals, university boards, etc…) sit around and decide what’s best for “ethnic communities” when they are not even asking the “community” is as dangerous as what the KKK was doing in it’s time. Maybe the methods are different? But aren’t we moving towards the same purpose?

  34. - A Loyal Illini - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:15 am:

    Both my wife and I graduated from the U of I, as did our two daughters. We would attend football games where, when the Chief came out, two of us would stand and cheer; two of us would sit and boo. While I don’t question the motives of many Chief supporters (including my spouse), your post was thoughtful and raised a good point. Anyone who attended back in the 60’s with me knows that tasteless caricatures of the Chief were rampant. (For that matter, I believe some university dorms were still racially segregated as late as the 1950’s). A school as great as Illinois is becoming need not encourage insensitive division. Go Illini! And go away, Chief!

  35. - RickG - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:20 am:

    Ravenswood, let’s call them the Illinois Fighting Lakota (or Fighting Sioux, if we want to be slightly more broad). Then your “costume” argument holds weight.

    The Seminole tribe has, if I remember correctly, asked the NCAA to allow FSU to continue using the tribe’s name. I haven’t seen that happen in Illinois.

  36. - Anon - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:25 am:

    You portray the Chief’s regalia as though is was hastily strewn together by a bunch of drunken frat boys in the middle of the night and made of whatever they had laying around. If you exercised greater due diligence in exploring this matter, you would realize that the apparel was made by Native Americans with the utmost worksmanship and is taken as seriously by the UI DIA as one can imagine.

  37. - history anyone? - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:28 am:

    Anyone know anything about history? It’s absolutely no surprise there was a KKK chapter at the U of I. The klan was a very different organization that hit its zenith in membership in the early part of the 20th century. Even Harry Truman contemplated joining the Klan.

    There is nothing more special to an alumnus of the University of Illinois than joining together with fellow Illini and participating in a half-time show that brings together so many folks. These folks don’t support hate, they support their school which happens to have a native american mascot. The Chief doesn’t act like a typical mascot and is honored an revered by the University, its undergraduates, and its alumni.

  38. - Siyotanka - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:33 am:

    Rich, thinking about this issue and the relationship of Past to Present. In today’s world of instant communications and mind boggling input from the world scene…we are faced with more than than some can comprehend (IMO). Earlier (circa 1900 or earlier) we were only faced by what we could read in a paper or discuss at a town meeting. In those times we did not have the luxury of “free time” to contempate issues on a politically correct scale. People worked (hard and long) from sun up to sun down just to make a living and raise a family.
    Today we do have the free time, do to modern technology and industry, to be able to take the time to comtemplate these issues.
    Is it correct? Who knows? Are we consumming our precious free time with these issues of PC dialogue? Possibly…but we have this luxury. We have this free time now to be swayed by all sorts of media (radio, TV, internet) to address issues, we believe are necessary. It is a great place to in America, where we can agree to disagree. Each should be able form ones own opinion…and if there others who agree with this opinion…great. But, is it correct for those who shout the loudest…to be only ones who are correct? It is a strange world in which we live today…a lot different than the last millenium… (Just my humble opinion)

  39. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:46 am:

    RickG: The NCAA approved the use of the name “Fighting Illini” after the U of I provided guidance on the term and after the NCAA did its own research and consulted with American Indian groups. Specifically, the NCAA concurred with the University’s position that the term “Illini” is closely related with the name of the state and not any specific American Indian groups.

    I’m still waiting for Rich Miller to retract his fallacious statement regarding Chief Illiniwek’s outfit.

  40. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:57 am:

    Ghost, try again without the profanity.

  41. - Anon - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 10:08 am:

    ==Ravenswood, let’s call them the Illinois Fighting Lakota (or Fighting Sioux, if we want to be slightly more broad). Then your “costume” argument holds weight.

    The Seminole tribe has, if I remember correctly, asked the NCAA to allow FSU to continue using the tribe’s name. I haven’t seen that happen in Illinois.==

    People often take issue with the fact that although the Chief’s costume is authentic Native American, it is not authentic “Illini.” Others believe the issue could be resolved by having the University seek permission from Illini tribe. These concerns have one fundamental flaw…

    There was/is no Illini tribe.

    The term “Illini” was first associated with the University’s student newspaper The Illini (now the Daily Illini) and has been found to be only a reference to the citizens of our great state. (The “Fighting” reference first appeared in context with the construction of Memorial Stadium and its tribute to Illinois’ veterans.) This fact is why the NCAA has ruled to allow the continued use of the term Illini despite its prohibition of the Chief mascot.

    So Apparently the NCAA feels that the symbol and performance is offensive to all Native Americans. But I question if assuming all Native Americans are the same is even more offensive. Wouldn’t that be he same as forbidding mascots like the Spartans, Trojans, Vikings, etc. because it might offend any/all Europeans.

    For a brief, but more accurate history of the “Illini” see this.

    [Edited by moderator to fix that long html link that was screwing up the site]

  42. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 10:20 am:

    From a monetary and political perspective, the move to ban Chief Illiniwek could mean financial harm to the school. How’s that, you say? We have a governor who is against fully funding higher education. Because of Blago’s stance and several politically correct programs, public university tuition is skyrocketing and there is no end in sight. With the Chief now taken away, I would expect many big-time donors to reneg on donation agreements and to perhaps even ask for their contributions to be returned. That seems extreme but many of those “ex-frat boys” are wealthy and willing to open their pocketbooks to help the U of I. If you take away a major symbol of their school days, the reaction may not be pleasant.

    On a historical side note, the KKK was one of the largest if not THE largest social group in the 1920s. Many colleges and towns had designated/recognized branches. Their actions and thoughts were still nefarious but the U of I officially recognizing the KKK as a social club does not shock me.

  43. - Coloradem - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 10:25 am:

    Great job cousin Rich! I agree 100%!

  44. - Matt - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 10:26 am:

    I think the issue is that we stole these people’s land, drove them to reservations, introduced them to alcholoism, and generally did all but exterminate them from exisitence.

    If all they want in return is for us to stop using these mascots, I think we still come out ahead in the deal.

  45. - The Ghost - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 10:28 am:

    Okay Rich, but I was censoring myself already.

    Again, sorry to say, but this is the WORST POST EVER by our esteemed Cap Fax blogger. I highly doubt the U. of I. was the only university with a KKK group 100 years ago.

    Everybody wants to talk history - here’s some personal history. I am a U. of I. alum and I was in the Marching Illini that performed with the Chief at football games. There was no greater rush than being on the field with the Chief, listening to the roar of the crowd.

    Liberal goo-goos and an extreme minority of students/alumni should learn what democracy is. The Chief is supported by an overwhelming majority of students/alumni. Those protestors there in the early ’90s were a small crew of the usual suspects. Why should they have the right to take away my history?

    And Jim Edgar (who vetoed the pro-Chief bill in ‘96) shouldn’t be paid a dime by the state/U. of I. to “teach” at my alma mater. Get back to EIU, after all, it’s called “Edgar University.”

  46. - googler - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 10:30 am:

    Does this mean that students from Lane Tech, Minooka, and Mascoutah will no longer be permitted to attend Champaign?

  47. - Gus Frerotte's Clipboard - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 10:31 am:

    Consider this about the Chief. Every year the Chief is still around, it’s a nasty controversy that doesn’t get any easier. But when the Chief goes, after a few years of protest by some specific alums, everybody will move on, and in twenty years people will wonder why it was such a big deal. So whether you think the Chief is offensive or not, the institution is better off swallowing hard, pulling the plug, taking its lumps, and moving on.

  48. - Tracy - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 10:32 am:

    I think it is absolutely ridiculous that people are fighting to keep alive a clearly racist symbol that mocks someone else’s heritage - one they no longer really have, due in large part to the ignorance of your parents and grandparents. Their ignorance should not be continued in this day and time. Take a stand and do what is right and find a more fitting symbol of your pride for U of I.

  49. - Logical GOP - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 11:00 am:

    Matt like I said, it’s not “them” that want this to change. It is “us”. By “us” I mean politicians, readers, activists, etc… I still have not seen a Native American group come out against the Chief or any other mascot yet.

    and Tracy, where do you live and where are you from that you say it is “your ancestors” like you come from a different breed of Americans. Shouldn’t you have stated “our ancestors”? Anyways, how is it clearly racist? Is the game of pool clearly racist because the winner is the person who gets to sink the only black ball on the table? And they do it using a more superior, even heavier, white ball? I mean come on people, racism does exist but lets not blow things like mascots out of proportion. I am sure the kid who makes $6/hour working his way through college does not put on the Chief outfit to be racist.

  50. - RickG - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 11:21 am:

    Raven, to be honest I don’t have a problem with the Fighting Illini moniker. I do take issue with the Chief, not because it bothers me one bit but because it bothers others.

    Anon 10:08, fine post and good historical recounting. Also, a very important point about there not actually being an Illini tribe. You’ll note that I did not say “The Illini Tribe hasn’t asked” — I was referring to any Native American coalition asking to keep the Chief around. I may be incorrect or misremembering, but I know I haven’t seen Native Americans conducting “support the Chief” campaigns as they did in Florida vis a vis the Seminoles. I think that says something.

  51. - Love the Venom - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 11:25 am:

    Rich - This is your best post ever. Extremely entertaining!!! Reminds me of the Star Trek episode where the evil spirit kept healing the Enterprise crew and the Klingon crew so they could continue fighting each other. Bravo, Bravo, Great theatre!

  52. - Platitudinus - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 11:26 am:

    Ghost’s post is a great example of why the founding brothers decided on a republican democracy. Equating democracy with a mob mentality does democracy too great an injustice.
    The University of Illinois has a less than stellar record of officialoly suppporting diverse points of view. Does anybody recall the political science professor back in the 70s who was denied tenure, he claims based on his less than main stream political views?
    The Chief is a fiction, a lie. It’s time for him to go. How might the mob respond to a dancing pope?

  53. - Retire the Chief - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 11:30 am:

    As a U.ofI. alum, I think it is great news that this fake Indian and his silly dance routine may be demoted. Rich makes a good point. The Chief was created at a time of enormous racial hostility and insensitivity towards minorities in this country. This dehumanizing stereotype has no place at a university of higher leaning.

  54. - Veritas - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 11:47 am:

    Rich, let me see if I understand. You’re not equating the two; you’re just using one as an example to explain your reasoning for disagreeing with the other. Semantics, pure semantics.

  55. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 11:52 am:

    Veritas, it’s only semantics if I have to explain the definitions.

    equation: the act of regarding as equal

    I do not think the Chief is equal to the KKK. Therefore, I’m not trying to equate the two.

    Please read what I wrote, instead of knee-jerk reacting to the “Rich doesn’t love the Chief as much as I do” issue.

  56. - Elitist? Of course! Have you SEEN these people? - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 12:02 pm:

    Hey Ghost, get a clue.

    This is one of those great cases where everyone at a computer needs to learn what exactly constitutes evidence or a legitimate points, plus take a few courses in reading comprehension.

    Rich never said that UofI was *unusually racist* by allowing the KKK to exist in the first quarter of the 20th century. You’re right that the KKK probably existed at a lot of institutions. But if you would bother read what he wrote, that’s exactly his point.

    Sheesh… And you’d better be 13, too, if you really think it’s a valid argument to say, “A majority of people think this way, hence it should be.” I mean, pretty much the entire concept of ethics and modern liberal Democracy is grounded in the understanding that popular support only occaisionally correlates with social good. That’s pretty basic stuff.

    You’re either an earnest moron, or a disingenious smart person to try to make these arguments.

  57. - anon - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 12:04 pm:

    Let’s be honest, you were just trying to get a rise out of people…job done, now move on.

  58. - Veritas - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 12:17 pm:


    I read the piece. Your post was intended to portray the two issues, KKK on campus and the Chief, as moral equivolants. While I don’t agree with your opinion, I can see why you might view them as such. However, don’t be so intellectualy dishonest as to compare the two issues and then deny you’re drawing parallels.

  59. - Sammy Esposito - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 12:29 pm:

    Am I the only U. of I. alum who opposes the Chief not because it’s racist, but because IT’S EMBARRASSINGLY CORNY!

    I make a dash for the restroom at halftime just to spare myself the humiliation of being even mildly associated with something so goofy.

    Doesn’t the Chief and the controversy around him remind you of something the writers of “The Simpsons” would cook up? It’s so silly it doesn’t seem real.

    My response to both sides of the debate: GET A LIFE!

  60. - NewfsCPA - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 12:31 pm:

    Thanks for the post Rich.
    My earliest memory of this mascot is from the 70’s where the mascot pretends to be drinking and then stumbles around like he’s drunk. Considering my grandfather was Apache and battled alcoholism his entire life, as did many other Indians, I am happy this reminder of our problem is finally going away. However, I will probably continue to encourage my children to attend a college other than Illinois given all the alumni who think it ok to poke fun of Indians and alcoholism.

  61. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 12:37 pm:

    Veritas, my post was not intended to do any such thing. I’m starting to believe that you have trouble with reading comprehension.

    As many people have pointed out here (ironically, mostly Chief backers) the KKK was very big in the 1920s. In fact, at one point they controlled pretty much all of Indiana state politics.

    This is, of course, my point exactly. The times were undoubtedly racist when the KKK could be considered a social or political club. The Chief was created during that time period and is now regarded by quite a few people outside the U of I as a racist or at least a degrading symbol.

    My point was to suggest that we might be able to learn something about the school’s sports mascot by looking at the decade in question. I also suggested that we supposedly had moved beyond where we were in the 20s.

    Most of this has been ignored, however, in favor of seeing what you want to see in a completely knee-jerk way and putting words in my mouth that were never said and ascribing intent without having the hint of a clue. It’s the usual thing with politics, I suppose, but it is getting tiresome.

  62. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 1:03 pm:

    I suggest we change the name to the Fighting Dakotans to actually represent who U of I is representing…

    In terms of the leprochaun idiocy, it’s like Notre Dame adopting a French mascot.

  63. - The Ghost - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 1:03 pm:


    Name calling doesn’t make you right. I’m not 13, nor am I a moron. If you had actually read my post, you would’ve realized I’m an alumus of the U. of I.

    I fully understand the basic tenets of a representative democracy/republic.

    My point is that the student body voted on this issue just a few years ago and overwhelmingly showed their support for Chief Illiniwek. The Board of Trustees, back around 1990 I believe, also voted to support the Chief. And that was when BoT members were elected, not appointed. The Illinois House and Senate voted in 1996 to make Chief Illiniwek the honored symbol of the University of Illinois.

    How much more democracy do you need?

    I’m sick and tired of people who never attended the U. of I. telling those of us who did that our tradition has to go. For those students and alumni who oppose the Chief - fine, but you’re in the minority. Deal with it.

    And to pre-empt the next argument, yes, the U. of I. is a taxpayer-supported institution. But I paid good money to graduate from there. And there’s plenty of things I’d like to get rid of that are taxpayer-funded (especially under Blago), but I don’t constantly whine and protest about it.

  64. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 1:07 pm:

    There’s a certain irony in this discussion about how wonderfully the Chief represents a tribe in a university setting, yet the entire deal has absolutely nothing to do with the Illini Tribe or any Native American tribe in Illinois.

    If the University wanted to accurately represent the Illini tribe, adopt it’s customs and not that of the Lakota Sioux. What’s most disturbing is the utter ignorance of Chief supporters about the historical inaccuracies promoted by the Chief.

  65. - HoosierDaddy - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 1:16 pm:

    Next thing ya know they’ll want to change my school’s nickname because somebody thinks it reflects negatively on rednecks… er… I mean educationally-challenged Rural Americans.

    Thank God we ARE past the time when the Klan and REAL racists were able to act with impunity. There is a huge difference between burning down houses and churches and “oh your hurt my feelings…”

    Unfortunately, we are now in such a hyper-sensitive climate that anybody who thinks that something offends him or her or “hir” believes that he/she/it has the right to censor it. Didn’t we learn by kindergarten “sticks and stones….”

    I’m not an Illini alum, and I’m not even a fan of the Chief, I think he’s a goofy, cornball act, but I’m damned tired of all of the PC nonsense.

  66. - Scott - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 1:29 pm:

    Once they’ve gotten rid of the Chief, the focus will move onto removing “fightin Illini” from the sports program…this isn’t over yet.

  67. - Bridget Dooley - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 1:53 pm:

    Rich, you put this very well. We are supposed to be beyond this type of racial stereotyping.

  68. - Dan Vock - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 2:19 pm:

    Ghost: Edgar’s veto of the Chief bill actually kept the power/responsibility over Chief Illiniwek with the Board of Trustees, i.e. with the school rather than the legislature. The amendment changed a “shall” to “may.” Not real radical stuff. Besides, my impression as a nascent journalist covering the controversy for The Daily Illini at the time was that the bill had more to do with getting Rick Winkel elected and then re-elected (in one of the most competitive House seats in the state at the time) than blunting any real threat to the Chief.

    And there are plenty of people who attended U of I who object to the Chief. Maybe it’s our love of the school that makes us want it to live up to high standards, ethically and educationally.

  69. - my two cents - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 2:24 pm:

    very good post and a very good poiny about the times from where the chief was created.

    1) things change, what may not be offensive yesterday and today, may become offensive today or tommorrow.

    example of the old vaudville act of black face entertainment, (ex the orginal amos and andy, and al jolson from the movie the jazz singer).
    back then it was not concidered offensive , but try that today and feel the wrath upon your back and rightfully so.

    the time for the chief to retire is now, times have changed, his outfit is authentic which is part of the problem.
    the dance that native americans do and the outfits that they wear to do them in is a very important part of both thier religion, and heritage.
    to native americans seeing some one in sacred garbs and dancing around like he has a bad case of the trots, is mocking what they hold dear.
    no one claims that the univeristy is not trying to honor native americans with chief illinwek, but the u of i needs to relise that the native americans are not honored by him but feel that what they believe in is being belittled by what the cheif does.
    native americans were a victim of a genocide in this country (the only good indian is a dead indian), after they were almost killed off and sent to reservation, groups took a real race of people and made them into mascot symbols.
    imagine if germany won the war, and to honor the brave jewish people, they had a jewish mascot dressed in rabbi clothes, goosestepping to german beats at half time. this is how native americans view chief illiniwek.

    there is a big differnce between a mascot and a symbol.

    nothing about the chiefs dance which has been pointed out in other posts, is authentic. attend a pow-wow and you will see what native dances are like and how stupid it is to call what he does an authentic native american dance.

    time do change, i will fight against stupid change, but even though i first was for chief illinwek, after much study and thought on the issue, i agree it is time to retire the mascot chief to history.

  70. - ...and now for something completely different - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 2:30 pm:

    I’m posting this observation to a new audience, but it is by no means new: The undeniable irony here is that a mascot, symbol, or any other term you choose to apply in this context, has as its primary purpose the unified spirit-building of those associated with the institution it represents.

    The Chief symbolizes vastly different things to different people. The only common concept he represents is controversy.

  71. - Tracy - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 2:36 pm:

    “Logical” GOP, I come from a group of people who have been discriminated against quite regularly in America. I am an African American (with one Native American great-grandparent, as well, if you must know), so I can speak about it with some personal knowledge). Changing the argument and writing about a pool analogy that has nothing to do with the subject of ancestors at U of I, who for the most part, were of one racial background doen’t help your argument. Face it, they were largely ignorant of what they were doing. Now that we should be more enlightened to what we have done, we should correct it. By the way, the kid putting on the uniform may be using the “Chief” as a means to an end, but that is no justification for it’s continued use.

  72. - IrishPirate - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 3:12 pm:


    To paraphrase Phil Kadner of the SouthTown……….

    “Silly White Man Who Dances”

    Chief Illiniwek is a joke……….as are most sports mascots. It is amazing the amount of angst and anger this causes in the overaged frayboy crowd. Must bring back memories of drinking and spanking games down in the basement.


    This is one Pirate who agrees with your Richster.

  73. - Diversity of Thought - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 3:56 pm:

    I respect you a hell of a lot Rich. Don’t back down on this.

    Here’s the situation. We committed mass genocide against a group of people and then named our sports teams after them.

    If Germany’s soccer team was called the Fighting Jews, would any of you be making these silly arguments about the sanctity of a mascot?

    “Yes, see, we named our soccer team after the Jews because we RESPECT the people we committed genocide against SO MUCH. That’s it. We simply could not THINK of a higher honor to bestow upon the people we committed genocide against than to name our soccer team after them. That silly dance the Jew does at half-time is totally authentic as well.”

  74. - Establishment Republican - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 4:15 pm:

    And after seeing the last comment before mine just now, I wish to say, that as a Jewish person, I certianly recognize that our government treated Native Americans very unfairly during much of our history (despite which the Democrat Party has never seemed to have much trouble in having a special place of honor for Andrew Jackson, who was perhaps the cruelest of all Indian-haters), but comparing the mistreatment of Native Americans to the Holocaust in Nazi Germany is quite offensive.

    The United States government had policies that removed Native Americans from where they had settled and also felt the need to convert them to Christianity in order to “tame the savages” and turn them into civilized human beings.

    Hitler felt Jews were unworthy to even live.

    There was no effort made by the United States to systematically eliminate a race of people.

    Native Americans are a race, while Judaism is first and foremost a religion so “Diversity of Thought’s” analogy is pretty weak there, but just speaking for myself as a Jewish-American, I would have no problem with a university adopting a mascot of the “Fightin’ Hebrews” or something like that. It really would not be all that different than the “Fightin’ Irish.” Maybe Brandeis University should look into that.

  75. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 4:28 pm:

    I was in student government at U of I when we voted to abolish the Chief in 1989.

    Chief supporters tend to remember the votes they want to remember.

    I’m proud of the vote I cast, but I shouldn’t have had to. Democracy doesn’t mean absolute majority rule. Democracy only works if there are some safeguards that protect the rights of those in the minority at all times.

    Naperville, for example, still has a law on the books I’m told that bans black people from being on the street after dark.

    Hip-hip-hooray, a majority of people once felt that way. It doesn’t make it okay.

    Some things shouldn’t be up for a vote.

  76. - Establishment Republican - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 4:40 pm:

    “Some things shouldn’t be up for a vote.”

    John Stroger tried that a few times in Cook County.

    I would like to see some kind of verification about this supposed law in Naperville.

  77. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 4:58 pm:

    I see Establishment GOP, so it’s okay when the board of trustees decides to keep the Chief, but not okay when they decide to get rid of it?

    What kind of democracy, exactly, do you yearn for? The Stalinist kind that always agrees wih you?

    Could the board of trustees decide tomorrow to ban blacks from university housing, as they were until the late 60’s, would that be okay? What if they decided that teaching about the holocaust wasn’t really a wise use of state resources, and banned that? What if they decided that only popular religions could have student campus affiliates? Or just Protestants?

    Can we agree now that some things really shouldn’t be left up to majority rule?

    BTW, I can’t verify the Naperville policy, so I take it back.

    But I can verify this: until the sixties, blacks at Champaign high school attended a separate P.E. class for swimming. Blacks were only allowed to use the pool the night before it was drained and cleaned.

    And until the late 80’s, a local health care provider in C-U was cramming all of their medicaid maternity cases - predominantly African American - into a single day. The reason? They thought the sight of black patients would scare off the rest of the folks, and tarnish their image.

  78. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 5:01 pm:

    and establishment republican, a Leatherneck is slang for a Marine. Their collars were lined with leather, back in the day.

  79. - Establishment Republican - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 5:09 pm:

    The examples you cite are far more injurious to people that if the Chief exists or not, so you may want to avoid going a little overboard with the hyperbole.

    I am not sure what your point is though about voting. You said that some things should not even be voted on in a democratic way, and then you accuse me of being against democracy. I think my point was that things should be voted on. There were a few incidents of John Stroger trying to announce a decision from his Presidents’ Chair without even bothering to have the board vote on it.

    As I said, I really have no stakes in what the U of I Board of Trustees decides to do, but it should be something that is put to a vote so the people who make the decision is held accountable.

    I think there might be valid arguments to make against the existence of the Chief, but I believe people are going way overboard into this from a political correctness standpoint.

    It seems to me like the people who are most offended by the Chief, are not Native Americans, but white liberals, who find a lot of offense in many things.

    Sure, there are Native Americans, and perhaps members of the Illini tribe, or however they are currently constituted that might fight offense at it, and their opinions are certainly valid, but it does not seem like there is any great movement coming from them against the Chief. There are certainly groups of Native Americans who receive a lot of press attention for finding offense in names of sports teams, etc. They may oppose the Chief on sensitivity grounds, but I would be willing to bet that they would oppose the general use of the name “Illini” as well in association with the school, and if it really got down to it, probably oppose this state even being called Illinois.

    So, how far do we have to go to allay the sensitivity of a relative few who can legitimately claim to suffer because the Chief dances at halftime?

  80. - Establishment Republican - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 5:12 pm:

    I will be signing off soon, but I just want to make a brief comment in regards to the fact that throughout the horrid organization’s entire existence, the KKK has always been viewed as an extremist organization, and that there were certainly people who were opposed it and fought hard against it, back when it had a student chapter at the U of I, which I was surprised to find out ever existed.

  81. - Diversity of Thought - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 5:15 pm:

    Hi Establishment Repbulican,

    For the record I’m also an American Jew and I’m NOT offended by my comments or comparison of the genocide of Native Americans to the genocide of the Jews in Nazi Germany.

    You seem to be saying that my analogy to a German Soccer team named the Fighting Jews is valid IF genocide was committed against Native Americans. People DO regularly make specious comparisons of individuals to Hitler, or events to the Holocaust. In this case, the comparison IS valid.

    The genocide may have been executed for different reasons. It may have taken longer. It’s methods were different. But the fact remains that genocide was committed against Native Americans. Refusal to ackowledge that fact is refusal of reality or gross ignorance.

  82. - Establishment Republican - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 5:23 pm:

    Hi DoT,

    It is a wildly unfair comparison and the fact that you are Jewish does not make it any less so.

    Let me first say, that if you are a Democrat, I would hope you are making it clear to the leadership of your party, that you do not want the party, anywhere in America, to host anything such a Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, since you are basically comparing Andrew Jackson to Hitler.

    Just to be brief, while the treatment of Native Americans is certainly a blot on our national history, the desire of the people who made the decisions was primarily to convert them and not to kill them. Many Native Americans died of course, (and let’s not forget they also were fighting back much of the time on the battlefield) but it was never an official government policy of the United States to round them up and kill every one of them. Big difference there.

    The scope and scale of what happened in Holocaust is without comparison in world history.

    Have a good evening everyone.

    Go NIU Huskies, beat the Buckeyes!

  83. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 5:33 pm:

    ===I would have no problem with a university adopting a mascot of the “Fightin’ Hebrews” or something like that. It really would not be all that different than the “Fightin’ Irish.” Maybe Brandeis University should look into that.

    Ummm…so should Brandeis adopt the Fighting Hebrews and then use a leprechaun as a mascot? I’m really trying to figure out how people keep making silly comparisons about other ethnic groups when we aren’t even talking about the same tribes. The Illini and Lakota are both aboriginal people, but different ethnicity, language and culture from each other. How does one justify them being the conflated and say anyone is being honored?
    genocide was defined (in part) as a crime “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such

    The problem with your claim that there is no comparison is you are attempting to lump all aboriginal Americans into one category of a single race when there were multiple nations and ethnicities amongst American Indians. It’s part of the problem of the whole debate is that people like you are completely ignorant of the reality of American Indian culture and society.

    I’m not one of the people who call the entire European subjugation of American Indians as a genocide in whole, but there were certainly genocides of particular tribes. Both the Pequot War and what we did to many tribes in California most certainly were similar to what happened to Jews under Nazis. It might have been less in numbers, but completely wiping out a tribe such as the Pequot is certainly genocide.

  84. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 5:37 pm:

    ===Sure, there are Native Americans, and perhaps members of the Illini tribe, or however they are currently constituted that might fight offense at it, and their opinions are certainly valid, but it does not seem like there is any great movement coming from them against the Chief

    The Peoria Tribe has called strongly for the end to the use of the chief. Given it has nothing to do with their customs or heritage they find the Chief offensive. The do not have that same feeling about the name Illini or Illinois, thought Fighting Illini has nothing to do with the affiliated Illini tribes since they weren’t terribly warlike.

    How does one defend the use of a caricature of a set of American Indians that did not exist in Illinois as a way of honorying them? And if you are not honoring them, how is it even remotely excusable to have the Chief act as he does?

  85. - anon 5:34 - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 5:51 pm:

    Establishment Republican — Tell that to the descendants of the millions that were killed by the Stalin regime in Russia. Or how about the slave trade here in the Americas? The Jews killed in Germany are probably at the head of the line in history regards to efficient forms of murder on a population but there are plenty that compare —- including the Native Americans. By the way, I could care less if the chief stays or goes, but fantastic thread to get people thinking about how the Chief will be perceived in 100 years which I believe was the idea of the original post. If I had to guess, the Chief is done, gone, kaput and will be looked upon as a mistake in a generation or two.

  86. - Philosophe Forum - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 6:11 pm:

    We are about 9 wks. from a Mid-Term Election, and 80 yrs of embarrassing self-aggrandizement comes to the forefront instead of the more important congressional races. Even more interesting is how few people have a limited idea of the subject. A few historical facts & notes:

    Many Algonquin-speaking tribes have inhabited this region before the European invasion began. The Illinois Indians, also known as Illini or the Illiniwek, were a group of independent tribes sharing a common language and a common origin. The Illinois language belonged to the central Algonquin group, along with the Miami, whom the Illinois Indians closely resembled. The word Illinois is the French version of the Algonquin term for men.

    After a Kaskaskian Indian killed the Ottawa chief, Pontiac, in 1769, provoking enmity of the Lake tribes, the Illinois took refuge for a period with the French at the village of Kaskaskia. It was at this time that the Sauk, Fox, Kickapoo, and Potowatomi began to move into the territory vacated by the Illiniwek.

    For 50 yrs., the Kickapoo (i.e., Kiwigapawa, meaning he standsabout, he who moves about, stand now here, now there) remained in the area(which includes the UIUC campus). Their ownership was recognized bycontemporaneous tribes of Indians and military authorities, French, English andAmerican.On July 13, 1819, they signed a treaty in Edwardsville ceding their lands tothe US. The language of this treaty recites that, said Kickapoo tribe claims alarge portion by descent from their ancestors, and the balance by conquest fromthe Illinois nation and undisputed possession for more than half a century.

    The Lakota and Kickapoo were enemies. It is ironic that the outfit currentlyused during the performances was provided by Chief Frank Fools Crow, an elderin the Ogala Sioux tribe of South Dakota, and was sewn by his wife. It’s moreof an insult really and looks nothing like the traditional clothing for the region.

    If many of the portrayers have actually visited Indian reservations in order toenhance their knowledge and their performance, they would be familiar with the Brown County, Kansas, reservation (and their water shortage) and the Texas & Mexico residents. If the portrayer knew anything about the culture, he/she should be making asmany speaking appearances in TRADITIONAL costume as possible. Not speak in costume or even utter the words excuse me is ridiculous. It wouldbe better for the portrayer to learn a few Algonquian phrases and REALLYpromote greater understanding of the Illinois Confederacy.

    So far there is no indication that anyone associated with UIUC really wants to show respect to the former inhabitants of the land it now sits on. Supporters seem to prefer redirecting everyone’s attention to some imaginary political objective. They fell for a really good con thinking no one would ever notice. The university needs to stop using a composite of a Plains Indian as a marketing gimmick and REALLY support the descendents of the Algonquin-speaking people. All the links/resources are in the Philosophe Forum blog post from May.

    For now, we need to address more important issues — like electing BETTER people for the job in Congress:
    Dan Stover (IL-19)
    John Pavich(IL-11)
    Dan Seals (IL-10)
    Dave Gill (IL-15)
    Joseph Shannon (IL-13)
    Steve Waterworth (IL-18)
    John Laesch (IL-14)
    Richard Auman (IL-16)
    Phil Hare (IL-17)

  87. - Left Leaner - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 6:15 pm:

    Are some of you really THAT tied to a mascot?!

    Do people from UW-Madison go nuts every time someone kills a badger? Do Purdue graduates get angry every time someone slanders a boilermaker?

    I understand and respect tradition, but some of you need to reallign your priorities. We discuss a lot of serious topics on this blog, but the U of I’s mascot inspires over 70 comments?!

    I didn’t go to the U of I, but I grew up in central Illinois as a HUGE Illini fan - still am. But I could care less if it keeps the Chief, and I’d same the same about the mascot from my alma mater. I’d rather they concentrate on improving their academics and fielding a decent football team.

  88. - Johnny USA - Thursday, Aug 31, 06 @ 9:42 pm:

    Eh, I’m with Rich on this one. We’ve been killing off native Americans & their culture for centuries…why stop now?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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