Saturday, February 17, 2007

In Memoriam: Chief Illiniwek, Frank Fool's Crow, and Black Elk

It's cold and snowy in Wilmette, a wonderful weekend to stay inside and read. In honor of Chief Illiniwek, (you can read yesterday's post here) Wilmette is recommending a wonderful book that you will love. The book is Black Elk Speaks, the biography narrated by the uncle of Frank Fool's Crow, the Lakota Sioux who sold Chief Illiniwek's regalia to the University of Illinois in 1982. While you can probably pick up the book in any local book store, you can also access the entire book in pdf format, free of charge, by clicking here. (UPDATE: Apparently this free book was removed from Internet sites in late in 2007 as it was still under copyright. As a replacement, I found this free excerpt (and another one) from the book, as well as Cliff Notes.)

The Lakota Sioux are not Illinois Indians, and their ways are far different from the ways of the Woodland Indians who lived in Illinois. Nevertheless, the book paints a picture of the end of a way of life that is passing away as quickly as the memory of the natives who once called Illinois home.

With anti-fur activists demonstrating last night at the Lyric Opera, I suppose I will have to give up on my thought of what to rename the Fighting Illini if that term ends up being retired, too. For a while I was thinking that in honor of the old French traders who roamed our state in its early days, that the University of Illinois athletes might adopt the name "Fighting Fur Trappers." but I guess that would never do.

Note: Chief Illiniwek lives on at Youtube. Just click here.
To see a genuine Native American example of " fancy dancing" click 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 Kupcella, 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.

FURTHER UPDATE: It's March, 2009 and not only has Kupcella's letter disappeared, searches reveal that any copies of it (but not references to it) have been very systematically scrubbed from the web.


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