Friday, February 16, 2007

Chief Illiniwek: Hail (and) Farewell

scroll down for link to video of the Chief's last dance
There is real grief today in the heartland. The University of Illinois, and its alumni love Chief Illiniwek, their symbol for nearly a century. As of next week, Chief Illiniwek will be deader than a doornail, officially extinct, gone every bit as missing as the Native American Illini Confederacy, once the lords of the Mississippi valley.

Chief Illiniwek made his first appearance on Oct. 30, 1926, during halftime of the Illinois-Pennsylvania football game and has been revered ever since. His final appearance will be Wednesday at the Assembly Hall, during halftime of the varsity men's basketball game against Michigan, the final home game this season for the Illini.

The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) has a perfect track record--right up there with China and other repressive regimes--in denying freedom of speech and freedom of expression to its college members. In the guise of political correctness, the NCAA has worked tirelessly to extirpate all evidence that the USA was once an Indian (or Native American, if you wish) nation, and is currently finishing its assault against the "Fighting Sioux" of North Dakota among others.

The NCAA is a voluntary organization. Theoretically voluntary, that is. Unfortunately, without membership, no college can have a sports program of any stature whatsoever. Any college administrator will tell you that nothing drives alumni contributions for academic programs like winning sports teams, so without NCAA membership the future of an entire educational institution could be in doubt.

With advocates around the world bringing increased attention to the issue of free speech and freedom of expression, it is sad that here in the United States we sit by so idly as "private associations" impose bans as thorough as those in countries with repressive regimes.

RIP, Chief Illiniwek, the Indian Removal is nearly complete. Your loyal fans mourn.

Click here for comprehensive information from the Chief Illiwek Educational Foundation.

Note: With the retirement of Chief Illiniwek, interest in the native tribes of Illinois (after which the State is named) is sure to wane. For further information about the Illini from the Illinois State Museum, just click here. Additional scholarly information about the Native American tribes of Illinois can be found by clicking here.

UPDATE: We've saved the last dance for you! Click here for the official professional video featuring Chief Illiniwek's last dance at the University of Illinois basketball game at the Assembly Hall on February 21, 2007. We will leave the last word on Chief Illiniwek to Charles Kupicella, President of the University of North Dakota who wrote an open letter to the NCAA regarding their attack on the "Fighting Sioux," which you can read by clicking here, although writer CB tips us that this letter is even better.


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