Thursday, March 29, 2007

Chief Illiniwek Remembered: A Proposal

Illini fans, I have an idea! Now that Chief Illiniwek and his regalia have been retired, it occurs to me that there may be a solution to the resulting void.

Wouldn't it make sense to invite winners of Native American Fancy Dancing competitions to perform at half time at University of Illinois games? One reason so many are sad at the loss of The Chief is our Native American heritage in Illinois, gone but up-to-now not forgotten.

Wouldn't genuine Indian fancy dancers accomplish the same result as Chief Illiniwek? I suppose, given the controversy, the current Trustees might be happiest without any tribute whatsoever to the Fighting Illini, and after all the brouhaha I can't say I blame them. Nevertheless, while I have definitely realized that changing the name of Illinois teams to the "Fighting Fur Trappers" will never do, I think we should honor those original Illini in some way.

Previous posts on Chief Illiniwek: 1, 2.

Note: If you have any serious interest in the original Illini, click here for a review of what is known about Illinois' first people. If you just want to see short videos of fancy dancing, just click here.

Update: We have received a very interesting comment; do read it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good idea about the fancy dancers!!!!
A number of Indian people actually met with the administation at UIUC and proposed the idea of changing the mascot to a fancy dancer and it was ignored. We even offered to make the outfit! Then we discussed the idea of the need for helping Indian students get into college and the need to recruit Indians from Chicago.Also ignored.

Mar 29, 2007, 6:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Publia said...

Hi Anonymous,
I'm happy someone agrees with me! I have followed the controversy closely, and I am pretty sure that it would be a bad idea to have a fancy dancer as a "mascot" (The Chief was never referred to as a mascot), but I am thinking more like "special guest" status with what dance will be performed. Indian mascots are 100% trouble when it comes to the NCAA and many Native American groups.

If you are an Indian person yourself, would you email me at publia.padena AT gmail [D0T] com so maybe we could think of some way to promote this? Your news about the insensitive viewpoint of the administration is pretty much the way they have always been, but your discussions with the administration I never knew about. Illinos has so many alums who would want to know more about your comment, I would like to do more posts about it. The trustees are elected, and you have an absolutely great idea that I am sure would be extrememly popular if more people knew about it. Thanks for your comment.

Mar 29, 2007, 8:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These posts are appallingly ignorant of the basic principle that reducing Indian people to sports entertainment is a grotesque idea and an idea opposed by every major national Indian organization (hundreds of organizations). If you want to honor Indian people from Illinois, go right ahead and listen respectfully to the many thousands of Indian people who live in Illinois. You might start at the American Indian Center in Chicago, a great institution that, I assure you, does not support the Chief (a well-intended but unwittingly degrading stereotype) and would not support well-intended but wayward ideas such as those proposed here.

Mar 30, 2007, 8:23:00 AM  
Blogger Publia said...

Dear Anonymous 2:
Thank you for your viewpoint. As a non-Native Illinois person whose family has lived in this state for well over 150 years, I think it is only fitting and proper that we have some tribute to the first people of Illinois. Many of us feel that we should remember them. Is there no way to do that in a sensitive manner where large groups of people assemble, such as Illini sports games? Under no circumstances do I believe that Indian people should be "reduced to sports entertainment," and that was not my intention.

Mar 30, 2007, 9:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Publia,

To find out about public events, contact the American Indian Center in Chicago, or go to their web site. If you are near a major university, such as the U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, check the web site of their Indian studies program or cultural center, such as the U of I Native American House. Indian people are alive and well in Illinois. To respect Indian people, just join respectfully in a public, Indian-related event. You would be more than welcome.

Mar 30, 2007, 7:22:00 PM  
Anonymous redearth1 said...

Publia, put away your ideas about Indians at half time. This is no way to remember Indians. Many of us are still around doing important work and supporting our families. Go to where we are. Don't promote ordering up Indians to entertain, no matter what you try to call it, for the same people who thought the Chief was a good idea. It never was from its inception. Go to where we are and try to learn what our real stories are if you are truly interested and not just trying to promote your ill-conceived idea. Let it go. Let it go.

Mar 30, 2007, 11:35:00 PM  

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