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Submissions to a Chicago Sun-Times poll
from those in favor of keeping Chief Illiniwek

KEEP HIM!!! It gets very boring listening to all ethnic groups crying about trivial things. We all are part of something that can be made "fun" of. Get real people, as our late son believed in "WE ARE ALL PEOPLE OF THE WORLD" and that's what it really is. Big deal, I'm German and French. I'm one of our David's "people" and that's it. On with your Chief Illiniwek!!!!!!!

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The Chief was always a respected and revered symbol of my alma mater. I cannot remember a single instance when the Chief's appearance or actions could be compared with your typical college mascot. During football games he appeared at half time, did an inspiring dance and held up his arms to embrace everyone during the singing of the Alma Mater. I was always proud of how the University of Illinois respected its symbol and didn't exploit or degrade it. I would be disappointed to lose the Chief, but understand the reasoning behind the movement.

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I think if they are going to take away Chief Illiniwek, then all mascots should be dealt with the same way. I think animal mascots should be included as well. This is going just a little too far. There are more important things in life to really make a stink about, this is insignificant is the scheme of things!

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The Chief needs to retained in his current position. The people that are doing the most demanding for his retirement are people who claim their work and their life is being effected by his place in the history of the University of Illinois. These people are the same that would trespass on the sacred grounds of the Indian tribes. I am sorry to say that I do not know much about the current Indian tribes, but they are in need of a good representative such as Bill Richards. Like so many issues in the United States only a few are heard and a lot of the time those few don't really speak for the many.

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I am a graduate of the University of Illinois (Champaign), Class of 1974. In this time of hyper-sensitivity I am disgusted that a small segment of the left has decided that what they have imagined as insensitive should be changed. Chief Illinwek has been a symbol of the University of Illinois spirit for generations. It is not, in any way, derogatory, except in the minds of small, bitter left-wing activists. GET A LIFE!!!

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This issue is getting ridiculous. How many times do we have to go through this debate, just to reach the same conclusion? The Chief is a symbol of pride and respect. Why on earth would a large, respected University with an honored tradition choose to represent itself with a symbol that we look upon as foolish? If we thought so little of our own representative, wouldn't we be able to come up with something better? The Chief is not a big-headed, goofy-looking charicature. He is depicted as a real, human and dignified symbol. He is respected by all the students, is a symbol of great pride for the school and is treated as such.

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Chief Illiniwek is a symbol of the University of Illinois and the heritage of the state of Illinois. Illinois is derived from Native American language and no one is protesting the use of our state name. Why protest the rememberence of the tribe of the Native Illini?

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Keep the Chief. He represents tradition and school spirit.

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For fifty years the sight of Chief Illiniwek has thrilled me and thousands of other Illini fans. I fervently wish that we could convince those opposed to him that we mean no disrespect to our Native American brothers. On the contrary, we have bestowed a great honor upon them by choosing Chief Illiniwek as our symbol. He symbolizes courage, determination and faith in his cause; the very things we try to instill in our athletes. We are proud to have an American Indian as our symbol. Please don't take him away. Oskiwawa Illinois

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As a former Illinoian, recently relocated to Arizona, I would like to express my feelings. I was a resident of Illinois for 63 years. In all those years, the figure of Chief Illini was only held in the highest esteem. Now a small vocal group speaks of the pain they feel when they see the "Chief" at Illinois sporting events. If so, I feel they have too much time on their hands. For the more years than I care to admit to, I have listened to Polish jokes, Italian jokes and Irish jokes. At no time did I ever feel any pain. I felt like I wanted to avoid the teller of the joke, but only because the jokes were usually not good or representative of the group being ridiculed. At worst the jokes became boring. Never, not once did I ever lose any sleep over an ethnic joke or feel any pain. I had a life to live with better things to worry about. Raising kids and making my mortage payments was more important than worrying about false representations.

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I was born in Paris, Ill., raised in Decatur, Ill., and have been an Illinois fan since the early 40's. I have never found the "Chief" to be insulting; as a matter of fact, the Chief inspired me to learn more about the "Illini Tribe". In a day where everybody wants to sue someone, or find fault or negatives about everything, wouldn't it be nice to find a few positives? I have been to all parts of the world, and endured under every imaginable condition, and I am left speechless by the trivial things that we complain about. I believe that we should do everything in our power to improve living conditions for the poor and hungry, and I feel that all should receive good a education. Lastly, I believe that we need to return to a time of better moral standards, and stop the "penny ante" carping that we have going on. Thank you.

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I grew up in Champaign County, Foosland, Illinois, watching cowboy and indian movies, always disappointed in the treatment of American Indians. Living so near the campus, I always felt the Fighting Illini gave American Indians the proper respect. Since U of I uses a specific tribe's name, all athletic battles speak strongly to me of the will, courage, and comraderie a tribe of indians would appreciate. I could always understand why American Indians would not appreciate when institutions or group of friends use a mascot such as Indians, Braves, etc., but the Fighting Illini and the rare appearance of the Chief always sent shivers through me for just the thrill that an Indian is achieving such respect from the crowd. I am not a avid fan of the U of I. I graduated from Illinois State and seeing the Redbird during games never excited me as compared to seeing the Chief on the football field or basketball court.

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As a student at the University of Illinois in the 1970's, I regularly attended football and basketball games. The highlight of each event was the appearance of Chief Illiniwek. Although not of Native American descent, I felt a great deal of pride for the Native American people as the Chief was always respected, revered, and honored. The noises of the stadium or assembly hall were hushed in his presence. The Chief has acted as an outstanding representative of the Illini people and has served as a major link to the history of this state. I cannot imagine the "Fighting Illini" better served than by this glorious mascot who continues to deeply touch so many people in only a positive way.

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I believe the University of Illinois should keep the mascot of Chief Illiniwek and continue to present him in the respectful manner that they do. I believe he is in no way offensive. Chief Illiniwek is a symbol of our history and our heritage. We must never let his memory die, and should continue to use him as a means of educating our youth on the history of our state's culture.

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I feel that Chief Illiniwek should be kept as a symbol of the University of Illinois. Many articles call him a mascot. He is not. He does not prance around the sidelines at sporting events, leading cheers and fighting with other team mascots. The Chief is a symbol of part of the heritage of the state of Illinois. Whenever the Chief makes an appearance, he is treated with the utmost respect and dignity. The University has worked hard to maintain this image.

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NO Because the Chief is a Chief

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Keep the chief. Lighten up and find a cause more worthy of your time and energies.

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Chief Illiniwek is a non-issue that shouldn't even be debated. He's been an honored symbol of the U of I for decades and if I were an American Indian, I'd be happy to see some of my heritage being preserved. The response of the crowd during the Chief's performance at a U of I game certainly isn't racist. I think that the students and faculty members who have a real problem with the Chief might consider transferring to another university and the rest of the anti-Chief crowd get out of town and get a life.

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No, I see nothing wrong with the Chief Illiniwek and his appearance at games. As a former resident of Woodridge, Illinois, I was alway proud when he appeared at games. He never disgraced the Indians as people and was always a credit to the State and the University of Illinois.

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As an alumnus from Illinois, I always believed that our mascot, the Chief, was the most valid (for obvious reasons, that being the Fighting Illini) and sincere of any college mascot. Had our Chief been a cartoon Native American similar to the Cleveland Indians' mascot, then, yes, offense should be taken by everyone. That is just not the case here. I remember reading articles of the authenticity of the "costume" and the training of the student in historically accurate Native American dances/ceremonies. The greatest service we as a people and as a University can provide to Native Americans is remembering and respecting their culture. Everything Chief Illiniwek is and stands for does that.

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I think the university should keep Chief Illiniwek. He has tradition at the school, and while the term Fighting" may not apply to the Illini tribe, he is treated with reverance on campus and throughout the state.

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I am of the opinion that the heritage of Chief Illinwek reminds us of the rich treasures of a people who went before us...Our native ancestors. Not just to native Americans, but to all who would call America their home. Little is really known by the average individual about the Illini who made their homes here in one of the great prairie states. I personally find that when I see the "Chief," I stop and ponder the many wonderful attributes their culture has left the great state of Illinois. In fact, to those who are opposed so vehemently, I would ask, "Should we change our state name because if one is really looking for negatives, we could start there, and eliminate our native American names and traditions -- you know, give the place a generic name of some kind?" The argument is certainly unfounded and I would suggest that most native Americans would find that their heritage remembered is the greatest respect that can be paid. And aren't we fortunate to reminded of it?

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I do not think the University of Illinois should get rid of Chief Illiniwek. Chief Illiniwek has been the mascot/performer for the school for many years and there have been no problems to date. Being a long-time follower of the school, I know that the university faithfully and accurately depicts Chief Illiniwek true to the customs of Illinois's formerly indigenous Native Americans. After the long audition and interview process, just being the one selected to be Chief Illiniwek is a great and unheralded honor for a University of Illinois student. The dances and rituals performed are true reenactments to those used by the ancient heritage of years past. The acts are done with the utmost dignity as well. They are not meant to poke fun or mock Native Americans and they do not. The school sees it as a sign of respect that we have not forgotten the people that first lived in Illinois and I agree with them. They don't chastise Civil War reenactments for supporting the Confederacy and racism. They don't because they are true to history, just as Chief Illiniwek is. It is all about respecting your past and respecting your fellow man and the University of Illinois has done nothing wrong with potraying a Native American figure.

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My stepfather was native American. Nations is derived from Chief Joseph from Canada.. Many native Americans have the last name of Nations, because the army always asked for two names and if the army couldnt understand "what NATION (TRIBE) are you with... they would just put Nations as a last name. I am originally from the South Side of Irish Chicago. SOOO even from the name of the greatest city in the World, (stinking onion), grad from Fighting Illini, Blackhawks, Starved Rock, etc. Illinois has ALWAYS honored the native American in the most respected manner. Chief Blackhawk monument was the first field trip that I went on as a Boy Scout... So even from this "weak" link of Chief Illiniwek could serve to educate about Illinois nations. Maybe show some video of Kahokia mounds, Peoria, Missouri flats, Rockford, Quad Cities history, Auroua, Joliet, Mississipi cliffs. Well to be redundant, The Chief could educate people about how Illinois survived the massacers and allowed the native Americans to exist. So yes, not let us be so “politicaly correct" that we may wipe history pointers.

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As a student at UIUC, it is highly imperative to retain Chief Illiniwek despite the cries of the PC crowd. The chief is the spirit of UIUC and represents a valuable bond between Illinois and its native American tribes. While a small but vocal crowd of students has called for the replacement of the chief citing racism and western cultural imperialism, their assertions are unfounded. Chief Illiniwek is not a tool of oppression, but rather he is the pride and spirit that made UIUC what it is today. Replacing him would not only be a travesty, but would also erode the foundation that UIUC was built upon.

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I was born in Oak Lawn and grew up in Oak Forest. I attended the University of Iowa, another Big Ten school and decided to stay in Iowa after graduation. I think that Chief Illiniwek should remain as is. I am not sure of all his history, but I never think of him as degrading to the American Indian. I am a Hawkeye fan now, but the Hawkeye is just a bird, and I am not even sure a real bird. When I see the Chief, I see a powerful, proud figure of which the history of the whole state of Illinois can be back traced to. Would people prefer to root on the University of Illinois Fightin' Lincolns or U of I Fightin' Capones? Why wouldn't people with American Indian heritage want a symbol of themselves to represent a highly respected university? If it turns out that the University gets rid of the Chief, I would be honored to be the replacement. Just tell me where to send my picture! The Fightin' Kaz's, hmmmm, I like the ring to that!

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As a freshman at the UI, I have been bombarded since day one down here on whether or not the Chief is a sign of disrespect or honor. At the beginning of Fall Semester 1999, dueling protest groups such as "Save the Chief" and "Ban the Chief" have held rallies out on the quad, at football games, in the Daily Illini, and so on. At first, it was difficult to gather my own opinion on this touchy subject, but then I arose to my senses and realized something that I learned from my parents as a child: the issue all comes down to respect. I have no problem with Chief Illiniwek as long as Native American culture is not parodied. The Chief symbol itself is a sign of bravery, courage, and tradition. To rid the school of such a symbol in response to the demands of a nouveau politically correct society is ridiculous. It has come down to the point where the Chief is not even allowed on certain merchandise because is it considered to be "disrespectful." Ban the Chief? As much as some people would prefer, this is less than likely. As always, the issue comes down to money. If the UI were to band Chief Illiniwek, I would not be suprised if alumni donations went down in significant enough numbers to prevent, or at least hinder, the school from future progress. To those who criticize the University of Illinois and University of Michigan (concerning the student group Michuagana), I suggest they look to the government, who has been denying native Americans the right to live a decent and respectful life for years. Perhaps the response to such criticism is to increase awareness of native American culture; something the United States government itself has ignored for over a century.

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I am a big Illinois fan, and I think that taking away chief Illiniwek would be horrific. You cannot just take a tradition like that away. I know activists for the native Americans believe that it is discriminating but they have taken this too far. They changed Maraquette's nickname because of it and other colleges. I think St. Johns is another of them. They have made high schools change their names. I just would have to disagree with them on this subject. Thank you for your time.

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I am writing to express my support for the University of Illinois and for retaining its great symbol, Chief Illiniwek. As an alumni (LAS 1989) and supporter of the University, I have watched with some dismay at the "anti-Chief" arguments, protests and dispute. I am also dismayed by the latest anti-Chief move initiated the North Central Association of Colleges (as reported in the Chicago Sun-Times of 2/16/00).  I find the anti-Chief arguments poorly considered, for several reasons. First, athletic teams are named after honorable and praiseworthy people and concepts. There are no teams named "The Fighting Drunks" or "The Lazy Bums" in serious athletic leagues. Second, only a small group of people seem to find this name offensive, and their reasons why are unclear. After all, nobody seems to take offense at "The Fighting Irish" of Notre Dame, or Vikings of Minnesota. Third, unlike most mascots, the Chief is treated with extreme respect, and here I wish to elaborate. Unlike the typical mascot, the Chief does not lead cheers. He does not stand on the sidelines watching the game, much less engage in the roughhousing sometimes seen of other mascots. The Chief's dance and the song he dances to are authentic and traditional, with the dance being historically documented to the early 1600s. The descendants of the Illiniwek Indians made the costume he wears. All of this was painstakingly researched in the 1920s. In short, every effort is made to make this performance as authentic and respectful of Native American traditions as possible. I find the efforts to remove Chief Illiniwek from the traditions of the University of Illinois at best poorly conceived and misguided. And what more honor could we pay?
I am of Dutch ancestory, but am not concerned about the slur "Yankees," which of course is a rough translation of "Jan Cheese," directed at the early Dutch Settlers of upstate New York. The Chief is a symbol of history, pride, and strength. Anyone who equates that symbol with racism is just looking for attention. If anything, it represents the glorious history of native Americans! If you are concerned about native Americans, spend some time on the reservations doing grass-roots work. Your impact will be felt there, although it likely won't give you the media attention that protesting the Chief will.

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Yes, even though I am one of those who still gets chills when in the presence of a performance, the majority of the population does not understand and is therefore misunderstanding and blanketing this area with hate and prejudice. I live here and know the true respect we have for the cheif and what he stands for. Now it is generally 'politically incorrect' and I can understand how holding on to the Chief issue can do us harm. I say let the Chief free and out of respect for the belief of what he represents ... do not adopt ANY mascot to replace him ... any other mascot would only disgrace the position he has held.

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The University of Illinois should never get rid of the Chief. What people do not understand is the Chief is not a mascot, he is a symbol of the spirit of the great state of Illinois and its people. The Chief does not walk the sidelines at football games or get the crowd roaring at basketball games. Nobody paints their faces in war paint and does the "tomahawk chop" at games. The Chief does not ride on the field and throw a flamming arrow into the ground like they do at Florida State. The university takes get measures to ensure the Chief is not used inapproprietly. So, to the people who need a political issue to target, please get on another "politically correct" bandwagon and leave the Chief alone.

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I do not think the U of I. should get rid of Chief Illiniwek. I am a graduate of Illinois and I still attend some U of I sporting events. Now as before, the Chief is a respected symbol and is presented only at certain times to entertain and raise audience spirit. I have heard arguments that he is demeaning to Native Americans. The Chief represents the University and Native Americans in a positive way, with respect and dignity. He is not shown as a negative stereotype running around with a tomahawk doing the "Atlanta Chop" I am sure there are examples of team mascots that do reflect negative racial/ethnic stereotypes. But just as that is wrong, so is it also wrong to assume that all ethnic/racial mascots are bad. When presented with dignity as Chief Illinwek is, they are sources of pride to any University.

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I attended the U of I as a Freshman in 1993 and was active in the Marching Illini and played clarinet alongside the Chief Illiniwek at the time. I am disgusted to see disbanding the Chief is even an issue. The present band directors at U of I discussed the dance, song, and outfit with the local Indian chiefs in the area to get their input and approval. What we have here is some rampant liberals who want to attack anything that might be considered offensive. As a part American Indian myself, I find myself disgusted at racist remarks and gestures towards Native Americans. Chief Illiniwek was a colloboration between the Marching Illini and the community. No one was ever offended then, why should they now.

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KEEP THE CHIEF!!!! The state of Illinois was named for the Illini Indians. What better way to remember their legacy than to name things after them. The Chief Illiniwek is the mascot of the University of Illinois. The Chief is honored at half-time of basketball and football games when he comes out and does his Indian dance. Most people would not see this authentic Indian dance if the Chief was not the mascot. This is a legacy that the living Illini Indians and all other Indian tribes should be proud of - just like I am that the chief is the mascot of my alma mater. And if my children choose to attend the University of Illinois, I hope the Chief will still be there doing his dance for the Illinois people to remember the heritage of their state. Thank you.

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Keep the Chief! The Chief is not a "mascot," but an honorable symbol of pride and respect. It would be nice to see the PC thugs focus on issues of real importance like, poverty, crime, or even littering.

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I really think we have a lot of educators with too much time on their hands. What do we need a North Central Association of Colleges and Schools for in the first place. I am not an Illinois graduate (Illinois State) but have witnessed the dance of Chief Illiniwek on many sporting events. Can someone please tell me what is so degrading and offensive about this mascot and the dance? Is not Illinois partly named after the Illini Indians? I can even understand if the team was called the Redskins and people wanted that changed, but this is not an issue here. All this mascot does is stir up pride and spirit in the Illinois students and alumni. What is so politically incorrect about that? The Board of Trustees was right to put this issue to rest. It's only a few professors and others who want to revisit the issue. I believe the way the news media depicts Native Americans with high alcoholism rates and unemployment rates is much more degrading than anything Chief Illiniwek ever did.

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As a former University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign graduate, class of 1987, I am very disturbed to find out that the university administration is still expending so much effort 12 years after I graduated, on something which is a time honored and respectful tradition. Should not they be concerned with educating students rather than administrative tasks? It is very unfortunate that most of the Chief Illiniwek critics are not of Native American ancestry, they only pretend to know about the culture by interviewing other people. Very few of the interviews talk to Native Americans who are for the use of Chief Illiniwek, as my native American friends are. Back from my school days, it is my understanding that an underclassmen is chosen to portray Chief Illiniwek and then that student spends a whole summer with an Indian tribe to learn the authentic dances. The authentic custom is also donated to the University by the Indian tribe. What a great way to honor the tradition of Indians!!!! My parents were immigrants from Poland. Tell these yahoos that want to eliminate Chief Illiniwek that the Polish-American community would be THRILLED to have authentic Polish dance recitals during football and basketball intermissions. Polish mountain dancers could perform their war dances with axes that would be mesmerizing. I can not think of a better way to honor my heritage than to showcase it at games for the audience in attendance and also for those on television. So please, if you are interested in removing an authentic and time-honored tradition from the University of Illinois, then you should replace it with a native Polish-American dance. The Polish American Congress would cheerfully provide authentic dancers, customs, music, and choreography at no charge to the university. Remember, after all, that Polish Americans are the largest immigrant population in Illinois, so let us honor them in a respectful manor during football and basketball games. Long live Polska!

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I think that as citizens of this state and as parents of the students, we should turn our attention and concentrate our efforts for better education. In the whole scheme of things this issue is pretty unimportant. There are a myriad of issues that should come before this, namely the rising cost of a college education. The Chief should be an esteemed character as he brings pride and a sense of togethernesss for the students and community. The attributes of an Indian warrior are pride and dedication. Not too bad of a role model compared to some of today's "heros".

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I think the chief should continue to be present in the Illinois sports/rally's, etc. He has a positive effect on the spirit of the students, alumni and fans. If some people feel he has a negative appeal to anyone, this should certainly be a consideration but not an overwhelming opinion as I (and every one I talked to) do not consider the chief to be derogatory to anyone, place or thing.

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I don't feel that the chief is making fun of Indians. He is used in a respectful way just inferring that Indians were great warriors and fought hard.

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I am a graduate of Univ of Illinois. Leave Chief Illiniwek alone. By the way, you misspelled 'Illiniwek' on this web page.

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I think that most of the logical thinking people are tired of hearing from the special intrest and racially motivated groups in the media these days. This is just another way to appease another group who refuses to see past their own inabilities and get on with life. I have been an Illini Fan for 28 years, and not once have I heard any other fan say anything degrading. I still feel goosebumps everytime I see the Cheif entertain the Assembly Hall crowd.  In short.... GET OVER IT !!

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I feel very strongly that Chief Illiniwek should continue as the dignified "symbol" of the University of Illinois. I speak in support of his continuance as a University of Illinois alumnus, a former resident of Illinois and a supporter of the dignified heritage his symbol represents. I refer to him as "symbol" versus a mere mascot as his representation has been chosen to remember and honor the great native heritage of the state of Illinois. His representation is the most dignified of the other "so-called" representations of Native Americans on college campuses and schools around the country. Everything about the "Chief" from his authentic dress to his dance steps and to his limited appearances is meant to continue a tradition of honor as both a living symbol of the university as well as link to the great Native American past of the state of Illinois.  If we truly want to improve the conditions of Native Americans today then we should focus our efforts and energy in helping to uplift those Native Americans who remain in poor economic conditions. Let's meet the "real" challenges some Native American communities face by improving their educational and economic opportunities as well as continuing to salute their heritage.

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What a crock. Why disband this symbol of the first settlers of the area. This is not demeaning, but is a symbol of pride. It's time the level-headed people stood up to those moronic liberals who demand everyone have their beliefs. This is a source of state pride.

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Even as an out-of-state resident, I recognize the dignity and special nature of the handling of Chief Illiniwek. One would suppose anyone, regardless of origin, would be impressed, if not downright proud, of its presentation. Keep the Chief and an equally impressive logo.

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This is a copy of an e-mail I sent to U. of I.'s associate chancellor:
To Mr. Bill Murphy, Associate Chancellor:
I see in the local paper that the issue of the Chief has come up again. I thought it had been put to bed several years ago, but it appears that a new batch of squeaky wheels is getting some grease. Perhaps it is the nature of a college campus, with its transient population. Every year a new group of people arrive on campus, bringing fresh ideas and opinions. This is not a bad thing. But it bothers me that the issue of the Chief can be repeated year after year, wasting the time of University officials whom I would hope have better things to do.  I do agree with the dissidents on one point: this issue has been debated and  "dialogued" to death. For a multitude of reasons, it has been decided that the Chief should stay. That should have been the end of it. But the Political Correctors want more. They claim to be offended by the "racist" portrayal of Native Americans. Well, I am offended by their strong-arm tactics. On the first front, a national accrediting organization threatens the University's good standing unless the Chief issue is reopened. What the school sports symbol has to do with the academic credibility of the university is beyond me. The quality of professors, facilities and materials involved in the learning process have nothing to do with the Chief.  On the second front, certain faculty members considering seats in the Student-Faculty Senate are being told that approval of their appointments is contingent on their views of the Chief. Again, the activities of the Chief should not and do not have any connection to the Senate. There are far more pressing issues to deal with. In the final analysis, the attempted action by the opponents of the Chief smacks of censorship. Like any other action one finds objectionable in this country, you have the right to not pay attention to it. If the Chief bothers you, don't watch. Don't attend the games and don't support the school. But don't take away my enjoyment--I do attend the games and do support the school.

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The Illinois nickname is a tradition-rich celebration of the area's past. Chief Illiniwek is treated with dignity and offers individuals the chance to learn about the proud Indian heritage Illinois shares with other states in the Midwest. If we change the name, we lose that link with the past. Do we need to change all names that come from different cultures (Vikings, Spartans, Aztecs, Saints, Jazz, Canadians, Canucks, Padres)? The reason the name is being used is because it has meaning to the state. Don't break that tie with the past. Celebrate it.

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No! The chief has been a symbol of the U. of I. for more than 50 years and has given pride to all alumni. Political correctness has gone too far. The Native-American community in our area thinks this whole affair is ridiculous.

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Chief Illiniwek is a symbol of a great university. He is treated with respect and at certain occasions can inspire awe. He is NEVER treated as a buffoon or a ridiculous mascot. As a student there in the late '50s, I recall the Chief's uniform being donated to the school by an Indian tribe--so that it would be authentic. NEVER have I nor my sons (also alumni) viewed the Chief as a racist figure. He is a dignified symbol of a premier institution of higher learning. He should be viewed as nothing more. Because of the dignity with which he is viewed, he is an inspiration of loyalty and pride. Native Americans would be better served challenging true demeaning symbols and verifiable actions of government sanctioned "cleansing" of their culture.

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Although I no longer live in Illinois, I did for most of my life, and my fondest memories are those spent at the U. of I. The Chief is an integral part of those memories. They are memories of honor and respect, bravery and courage (even though the team usually lost while I was there). It is unfortunate that the Illini are no longer with us to speak for themselves and to tell those who are against the Chief to be silent. I think if they were here they would be proud of the efforts to memorialize them. The anti-Chief faction wants to erase their name and their memory in the name of political correctness. I say shame on them. They can't go protest at Florida State, because the Seminole overwhelmingly would tell them to get lost. I'm not a Native American, but I can say that I am not offended by Notre Dame. Is it better to forget about a people that is no longer with us, or to honor their memory and keep their name alive? If it were not for the Chief, most people would not know that the Illini ever existed. Keep their name alive. Save the Chief, and save the Illini from oblivion.

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Chief Illiniwek should be left intact as the symbol of the University of Illinois. The Chief is not disrespectful, offensive or insulting to the Illini Indians, or American Indians in general. On the contrary, it is an homage to a past culture, and as it is taken very seriously by the student who portrays him (after intense competition), it should be applauded as a tribute to the Illini Indians, and not a topic of discussion for replacement.

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This entire idea is outrageous! I can remember, as a student at the U. of I., standing in the stadium stands when Chief Illiniwek would come creeping through the band and then burst forward onto the field with one of the most inspiring dances ever seen! He brought the crowd to a frenzy of team support and was the highlight of the day--whether the team won or not, we were all treated to his joyous performance!  LONG LIVE CHIEF ILLINIWEK! The team mascot does not do disservice to any of our redskinned brothers. They should be proud that he is such an icon! Certainly not to be ridiculed!

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I feel that the Fighting Illini should keep the chief, because he is a traditional symbol, which harkens back to the early history of our state. Not to mention that the person portraying the chief must learn cultural aspects of the tribe, making it an educational experience. Having sadly watched my own school (Marquette University) be forced to give up its "Warriors" mascot, I feel this political correctness has gone way too far, and important history and tradition are being lost in the process.

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As an alumni, I am strongly in favor of the University retaining Chief Illiniwek. I find the arguments that the Chief is a racist symbol which mocks and dehumanizes Native-Americans unfounded. The Chief represents a link to the State of Illinois' Native-American history and has been represented in a way that elicits emotions that make me proud to be a native of Illinois and a graduate from the University of Illinois. My wife, who also attended the University, has a Native-American heritage and shares my feelings.  I find it troubling that the Chief continues to be an issue. Chief Illiniwek is a dignified representative of a distinguished university in an illustrious state and the rich history and tradition of Chief Illiniwek, which so many of us cherish, should be allowed to continue.

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As a Northwestern alum, there is a rivalry with Illinois that is fierce in every athletic contest. Chief Illiniwek is a symbol of the fighting spirit of the Illini and should be viewed in that context. Anything more is bull!  Keep the Chief!

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As an Irish-American, I have never found Notre Dame's "Fighting Irish" to be the least bit offensive. I was quite a Notre Dame fan until I chose to attend the University of Illinois. I don't think the "Fighting Irish" is racist even though the Irish are a fairly peaceful people. The Illiniwek were peaceful as well. Is it racist that they are mis-portrayed, or is it good that they are still remembered?

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I remember Chief growing up in the late '60s, when you could get $1 end zone seats to watch Saturday afternoon football. You waited at least until after halftime just to see the Chief. The Chief was magic, and we all wanted to dance just like him. I think it is sad this is such an issue. Don't we have more pressing concerns? Being a lifetime fan of the Illini and Chief, it makes me sick just to think of the Illini without the Chief.

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I'm a 1968 graduate of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. I've been living in Florida since 1973. I have fond memories of halftimes at U. of I. football games when Chief Illiniwek performed his ceremonial war dance. I attended a homecoming game five years ago and was truly shocked at the crowd reaction to the Chief. What was a positive, had become in this age of political correctness a point of controversy. I live about two hours away by car from Tallahassee and have attended many FSU games. Their mascot is Chief Osceola, on a horse named Renegade. Before FSU football games, Chief Osceola rides to the center of the field and throws a flaming spear to the ground. That truly electrifies the crowd, just as Chief Illiniwek did for U. of I. many years ago. The Seminoles in Florida are treated with respect by the FSU fans. In turn, Chief Osceloa is endorsed by the Seminole tribe in Florida. The opinion of their Oklahoma brothers or other Indian tribes be damned. Of course, this attitude on the part of the Florida Seminoles fosters even more respect. The day the Illini surrender to left-wing political pressure is the last day I will even tell anybody I'm a U. of I. graduate. The cowards can change their name to the U. of I. Weasels.

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Chief Illiniwek is the University of Illinois. We should be focusing our energies more on banning the teacher assistants that can't speak English rather than our Chief. Long live the Chief! I don't think they should get rid of it because the mascot does not depict Native Americans in a negative way. The Cleveland Indians, however, have some serious issues. The mascot looks like a Characature. I personally also think the Fighting Irish is a touch offensive, but what can you do? I vote to keep Chief Illiniwek as our mascot. I am a '72 grad of U. of I. and still get chills when I see him perform a traditional dance. The Indians were here before we were, and we shouldn't forget their beautiful customs.

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Anyone who seriously believes that the chief is racist needs to reconsider their education. Look up the definition and read it. As to those who feel other cultures (i.e., the Europeans) aren't likewise used as symbols, you aren't looking very hard. Some include some deeply religious symbols of Christianity (Angels, Saints, Padres). None of these names or symbols are meant to be derogatory in the least, nor are they an attempt to enlighten people as some chief supporters might suggest. And for those of Native-American descent or those who might speak upon their behalf, your race/culture has their share of good and bad things about their history. To suggest it was non-violent, as one writer has penned, is a joke. In fact, the Illini "tribe" was wiped out by other Native-American groups. If the tribe still existed, perhaps we could end all this squabbling by paying off the tribe the way Florida State has paid off the Seminole tribe. And since the Seminoles have been paid, they no longer seem to be offended. Maybe they no longer do the warrior on the field on a horse throwing a flaming spear on the grass to begin a game, but I believe they still do.  Based upon this, Chief detractors who are Native Americans, I don't believe your sincerity at all. And those who are not of Native-American descent, who have joined the dump-the-Chief faction, I believe are doing so for the purpose of trying to find a politically correct purpose for their life. It is sad, a world with so much to do and spending time on this. Sure! Let's replace him with a "real" role model, like Chief Clinton?

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As President of Students for Chief Illiniwek, a student organization of nearly 3,000 members at the University of Illinois that works to uphold the tradition of Chief Illiniwek, I feel I can offer unique insight into this debate. I have worked closely on this issue for three years now. I have spoken with those who get tears in their eyes at the thought of removing the Chief, as well as those who consistently hurl threats at members of my organization. I can assure you that the students at the University of Illinois by far support the Chief. Furthermore, the Peoria Tribe, the last living descendents of the Illini, have no opposition to our use of the Chief. Students, alumni and other supporters understand that the Chief is not a mascot. He is the symbol of our university. He represents with dignity those who lived on the land before us. He also represents a spirit that is shared by all Illini. That is the spirit of the Indian Man--strong physically, mentally and spiritually. The fact remains that Illini treat the Chief with respect--they do not treat him as a cheerleader or an objectified caricature of Native Americans. Those who oppose the Chief are a small minority. Their claim that the Chief disrespects Native culture demonstrates their ignorance of his tradition and spirit. The Board of Trustees, who alone have the power to make the ultimate decision regarding the Chief, should know what is at stake. Eliminating the Chief would legitimize the opinions of a small, vocal minority of students. If the Board bows to their demands, they will fall down a slippery slope. From that moment on, the University will be obligated to cater to the complaints of any and all groups, no matter how ridiculous. They will send a message loud and clear: "Even if it means sacrificing principles and reason--WE WILL NOT OFFEND ANYONE!" That is a dangerous position to take. So what is a university to do? Students for Chief Illiniwek has some answers. The Chief should be used not only as a symbol of honor, courage and tradition, but as an educational tool. The history of the Chief should inspire courses and lectures on Native-American history and culture. The spirit of the Chief should be used to encourage students to help the Native-American population with service trips, charitable donations and scholarships. This is what Students for Chief has actively been doing for the past two years. The University, with all its resources, should follow suit. As for our opposition, they should help Native-American people and their culture in these ways instead of wasting their time imposing their own their political agenda on others.
              Monica Khetarpal, President, Students for Chief Illiniwek

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I'm in favor of keeping Chief Illiniwek. It is good for the morale of the university and does nothing to disrespect the Indians. He's just a mascot! I enjoy watching him do his dance at the games.

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The Chief was always a respected and revered symbol of my alma mater. I cannot remember a single instance when the Chief's appearance or actions could be compared with your typical college mascot. During football games he appeared at half time, did an inspiring dance and held up his arms to embrace everyone during the singing of the Alma Mater. I was always proud of how the U. of I. respected its symbol and didn't exploit or degrade it. I would be disappointed to lose the Chief, but understand the reasoning behind the movement.

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I think the whole issue of Chief Illiniwek is being treated in an irreverent manner by those who wish to eliminate him at the University of Illinois. I attended Illinois and I remember how respectfully his image was treated when he came onto the football field and performed at halftime. It was not done in a cheesy or irreverent manner at all. The state of Illinois was populated by Indian tribes long before any white men were here, so even the name "Illini" respectfully reflects that heritage of the original inhabitants of this state. It is very easy for opponents of this great tradition to jump on the "politically incorrect" bandwagon and knock something that had been done respectfully for years.  I would suggest that Chief Illiniwek not only be kept as a U of I tradition, but also that an American of Indian heritage be hired to do the performing as Chief Illiniwek. That way, the true Indian tradition of the ceremonial dance can be kept intact, and the image of Chief Illiniwek will be honored and respected.  I challenge those opposed to the idea of honoring our original state inhabitants to come up with a more respectful solution than the one I have just proposed.

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Chief Illiniwek, in my opinion, has been a symbol of culture, integrity and respect. He is held in the highest esteem. Not only does he represent a great institution of higher learning, but the institution itself represents the Chief. It represents the Chief by proudly displaying the Native American name Illinois. The two go hand-in-hand, they are inseparable. Again, Chief Illiniwek is no mascot, a court jester, or some symbol of frivolity. He is a "representative" of one of the great universities in all of the world and carries himself as such.

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If you are going to question whether a symbol is racist or demeaning, you have to consider its INTENT. Would an organization choose to symbolize itself and its heritage by something that it finds worthy of ridicule and mockery? Of course not. The intent of Chief Illiniwek is not to demean Native American people or their tradition. Rather, it is to conjure up notions of fearlessness, valor, majesty, beauty, pride, and spirit. What is offensive about that? The fact that the LOOK of Chief Illiniwek and the music that accompanies his dance perpetuates the Hollywood stereotype is completely irrelevant; it is what the Chief represents that is important.

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I'm having trouble dealing with the concept of "Native Americans" being used as a reason to discontinue the tradition. Personally I don't have feelings pro or con, however these "Native Americans" like the rest of us came from someplace else, too.

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I first saw Chief Illiniwek as a University of Illinois freshman in 1969. The Fighting Illini went 0-10 that season but I attended every home game because there is something magical in the "Three in One" (the Marching Illini's and the Chief's performance on the football field.) Anyone who's seen it can never forget it.  When I left Champaign four years later, the spirit of the Chief had become a part of me. I am proud to say that my alma mater has a symbol, not a mascot, and the Chief is that symbol. For the past several years, a noisy microminority has tried to take that symbol away. I take deep offense to those few who want to deprive me of my symbol. An attack on the Chief is an attack on me and countless others.

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I don't know why the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana wants to get rid of Chief Illiniwek. Is it because of the American Indians complaining about the mascot? I don't think the mascot crosses the line in insulting the Native Americans. I don't see San Diego State University get rid of their mascot because it insults the Aztec Indian culture. I don't see how the Irish in Ireland are complaining about Notre Dame's mascot, the Fighting Irish. The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana should keep the mascot and not fall to the pressure of some outside group.

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Chief Illiniwek is a symbol of the courage and heart that defines the native American people. It is not a cartoonish portrayal of Native American life and does not attempt to poke fun at the traditions and honor of those peoples who inhabited Illinois long before Columbus crossed the Atlantic. I sincerely hope that this fact is not overlooked in the pursuit to appease certain political points of view.

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I graduated from the U of I in 1956 with an Engineering Degree. Later I got an MBA from the University of Chicago and a Law Degree from NIU. My career extends through 45 years in various professions and pursuits. I don't get too upset about change and see it as a dynamic of our age. The Chief was selected to honor a Tribe and a great University. I don't belive most people find it offenessive, other than a small group who have pursued this issue with great zeal, draining the resources and time of a great University to satisfy their narrow perception of what is offensive. The offensive ethnic names have long ago been eliminated form schools and organizations. At this time there has been an ample opportunity to hear all the concerns expressed on both sides. The Chief does not offend and was not intended to offend. However, constant objection can become offensive and derisive, demanding attention that it no longer deserves, nor merits. I would encourage the University of Illinois to move on with the real business of running the University, keep the Chief and all the decent traditions he represents, and send the complaining parties off to find a more worthy cause. Please enough is enough!

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I have two children who graduated from the University of Illinois. I have seen the same twenty or so demonstrators protesting at football games. I also am personally acquainted with a young man who portrayed Chief Illiniwek. At no time did I ever perceive his portrayal to be anything but in good taste. I am also aware that a tribe that resides somewhere in Oklahoma, I believe, finds nothing offensive about the Chief. I do feel that many of those who do protest do so in order to join a long list of people who have to be "politically correct." It's a sign of the times.

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Chief Is a time-honored symbol of deep respect and honor for the Indian tradition of dancing vigorously to get the mind prepared for a very important event. I'm convinced that it is inconceivable that, when mascots were being chosen, no one would try to select a mascot that would, in any way, "take away" from the positive reputation they were trying to portray for their university. We also need to recognize how many thousands of former students and fans would be so negatively affected if such a change were made. Keep the Chief!

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The chief was selected to be the symbol to represent the University of Illinois. Period. He was not chosen to degrade or to belittle any group of people. It's a very big honor to have an institution like the U of I decide that his likeness shall be our mascot, our identity. His appearance is ALWAYS very noble and distinguished. He has never paraded around like a drunken fool (read 'Fighting Irish') or goofed around on the sideline with the band during the game. Where does it end? We might as well get the animal activists in and bemoan the depiction of the many Wildcats and Tigers that dance idiotically on the sidelines of numerous games. What I'm saying is, find something real to complain about-like our current president.

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Native Americans should be proud that their heritage is being remembered and promoted by such high standards used by the University of Illinois. Is there some assumption that early native americans wore Brooks Brothers suits or is there some shame in cerimonial, ethnic costumes? I say LONG LIVE CHIEF ILLINIWEK!

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Politically correct! Politically correct! I'm tired of being politically correct. As a 1979 graduate of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana I proudly state my backing of "The Chief" as the University of Illinois' mascot and symbol. Do to job transfers around our great country since graduation my family and I have lived in Georgia, Arkansas, New Jersey, Missouri and even for awhile in the great state of Illinois. Everywhere that I have lived I have proudly proclaimed that I graduated from the University of Illinois. In each and every one of those locations I and other members of my family have worn University of Ilinois clothing that depicted "The Chief" logo. Never once in 21 years has anyone stated a negative comment to me about our university or our mascot, If individuals do not like "The Chief" as the mascot at the University of Illinois maybe they should go to school where they can become a Badger, Wolverine, Hawkeye, etc.. .Oops forgot once they get there I'm sure these individuals will have to take up the fight to change those mascots also can't be disrespectful to those animals. As for me I'll continue to wear my University of Illinois sweatshirt with "The Chief" logo, as a matter of fact when I die (hopefully of old age) look in my casket I'll be wearing it proudly then as well.

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The Chief should stay. If you've ever been to any Illinois home football or basketball game when the Chief performs at half time you'd never think twice about this tradition being stopped. Its hard to explain...you just have to be there...

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No I do not think so we are not showing any disrespect toward the indian hertiage at all.

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I continue to be amazed at the clout that minority voices have, all in the name of political correctness. To discuss the merits of Chief Illiniwek in the same conversation as the Atlanta "Braves" or Washington "Redskins" or even the Florida St. "Seminoles" is ridiculous. For at least the last 15-20 years, Chief Illiniwek has NEVER been anything but a respected and revered symbol of the University of Illinois. Prior to then he occassionally popped up in an undignified manner. He is not portrayed as a cartoon, mascot, caricature or anything of that sort. Each situation must be judged on its own merits. However, this is not being done by the majority of people who are weighing in on this debate. For them, it is much easier to throw a blanket over everything that even looks like it might be offensive, so that the problem seems bigger and draws more attention, which of course is all they're really looking for. There have been just as many Native Americans over the years that have blessed the manner in which the University of Illinois portrays the Chief, as there are those opposed. Why does the press seem to only focus on the latter? Should all Irish-Americans be appalled at Notre Dame for parading their leprechaun around? Should Africans, and I don't mean African-Americans, be upset when people with less than 100 percent pure African heritage wear special ceremonial clothing or perform special dances during Kwanzaa?

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Why is this such an issue? This is getting blown out of proportion. This has been a tradition in this state for years, and to change that because someone finds that offending is awful. This is a school mascot, a crowd pleaser, and someone that people enjoy. This could possibly be relavent if the chief was being put down, but I guess this is america, and everything is a race issue. I usually would not write in and say my opinion, but when will this all stop. How many people actually are concerned about this matter anyway?

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As a graduate of the University of Illinois, I've heard the Great Chief debate for over the last five years. I've always wondered if the debate existed anywhere else but on the campus. The one thing that I've always noticed, then and now, is that only the anti-Chief activists are the ones who get all the media attention. One thing that I've always believed is that the anti-Chief activists are a bunch of self-obsessed me-monkeys that have become so pathologically rabid about this issue that in the long run is cosmically inconsequential. To be completely honest with you there are times when I want to go to an Illini sporting event and celebrate the Chief at half-time without hearing the activists reminding me that the Illini were a peaceful tribe and whatever other horrifying things the Chief does that are offensive. Hell, if the Chief is that damned offensive then maybe the Chief should be retired as the school's mascot. But what about the thousands upon thousands of Illinois Alumni who grew up with the Chief, who love, honor, respect the Chief, and never have their opinions heard or even the opportunity to be expressed? I don't love the Chief because he wears that crazy head-dress and does the tribal dance at half-time shows for my enjoyment. I love Chief Illiniwek because he was the symbol of my Alma Mater, he stands in my mind as a very important piece of Illinois history, and (most importantly) I have a very deep and profound RESPECT for the Chief. I know there are many, many other people who share many of my beliefs. The Chief has never been seen as a savage warrior hell bent on destruction and he has never been seen as an instrument of amusement. I've known very many anti-Chief activists and I've known very many pro-Chief activists and it all boils down to which side's self-obsessed me-monkeys are going to win this "battle". No matter what the Board of Trustees decides someone/group is going to be outraged by the decision. I feel that the Board of Trustees should weigh all of the evidence/facts, listen to all people's opinions, and then make a decision that will let them sleep at night. The main problem with any criticism/activists (or just plain pain in the ass, sometimes) is that they remain dependent on the innovator, the person doing the real work of creating or in this case upholding a very long and proud tradition at the University of Illinois. We give them their chance to be heard year in and year out but because the Board doesn't ban the Chief they anti-Chief activists keep coming back. The Board of Trustees/the Media/and people in general gives activists the power because we rely too much on critics to make our choices for us. My advice to everyone involved is to enjoy the world on his or her terms. If you like the Chief then like the Chief. If you don't like the Chief then go sit in another room or do something else during the half-time celebration at the sporting events. For the Board of Trustees I encourage them to follow their own heart and take what any critics say with a fifty pound bag of salt because at best a critic is just another human being like themselves, fumbling around in the dark, trying to separate a time honored and maybe even sacred symbol of one of the nation's finest universities from their own insecurity and selfishness.

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I feel very strongly that Illinois should keep the tradition of Chief Illiniwek alive. The ceremony performed at halftime of the football and basketball games is done with great respect, pride and honor. It is a great tribute to the Illini Indians and their history. I'm sorry to say that at one of this year's football games, protestors burned a stuffed figure in effigy because they feel the use of Chief Illiniwek is racist. There is nothing further from the truth. This has nothing to do with racism and it really bothers me that this is ever even mentioned. The University of Illinois chose to be known as the Fighting Illini out of respect and honor to the Illini Indians. People that continue to protest and make false accusations of racism need to move on and find a real cause to champion. I say continue the great tradition and keep the Chief alive! Go Illini! I'd be happy to talk on the phone about this issue if any of you are interested.

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I can not believe this is still an issue. The chief is and should remain the symbol of the university of Illinois. I am proud to be an alumni of the University of Illinois and as an alumni I will always support the chief and the university for which he represents. I, like many others, find the use of an ethnicity or race for mascots flattering. For example, I am proud of my Irish heritage and find the University of Notre Dame's mascot in no way offensive. I really wish people would grow up and direct their energy toward more important problems. .

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I think the Chief should be retained. I do not believe that it is disparaging to Indian culture. It is a symbol of dignity and has always been so treated at the University of Illinois

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NO! Don't ever change the name. This is another liberal movement that is destroying this country. They are NOT going to bring down the best mascot in college also. The true Illinois alums will not let them.

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This controversy has been going on for years. At least the whole time myself and my two roomates have been here. We have heard both sides of the issue loud and clear, on the quad, in the paper, in class and to tell you the truth we like the Chief. There is a history to the chief and it's not one that celebrates death or manifest destiny. It's a history that comes from the tribe and is the schools way of honoring them. The outfit is not a joke, the dance is not a joke, the person who performs it doesn't think it's a joke. Our mascot is something the school and townies cheer for. It really is not meant as anything but an honor. I am sorry if anyone feels hurt by it, because that's not what it is for, but I think the chief is beautiful and the cerimonial dance he does his also beautiful and complex. In my apartment he represents tradition and school spirit, what little of it this campus actually feels.

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Being a freshman at University of Illinois, I have been directly effected by the ongoing debate about Chief Illiwek in one way or another. But my opinion about it has always remained constant. I think that the symbol of the Chief is not meant to defame the Native Americans, but rather to glorify and make all of us aware about the Native American hertiage. Through the Chief's dance during the halftime of sporting events here on campus, people are exposed to that heritage in a way that they would not otherwise have a chance to experience it. It is as if we have a living memorial to honor the original habitants of America, making the younger generation aware of it through an interactive way that appeals to them. Let us not turn what was originally meant to honor the Native Americans, into smearing and destroying the real meaning of what the Chief has always stood for.

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Doesn't everyone think that this Chief Illinwek discussion has gone on long enough. He has been a tradition at the University of Illinois for years and I'm sure I'm not only speaking for myself but thousands of other fans that have enjoyed his entertainment and tradition. The people who are protesting need to get on with their life. I'm sure at least half if not more of these protestors were not even born when this great mascot got his start!!!!!!!! Come on people, there are far worse things going on in this world that need to be addressed.

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Let's get one thing straight, the Chief is not a MASCOT. He is a symbol. Mascots are cartoon like creations such as the Notre Dame leprechaun or Bucky Badger at Wisconsin. The Chief only appears at halftime under strict guidelines. If anyone hasn't noticed, the U of I derives it's name from a state that is named in honor of an Indian tribe. In my opinion, the intent of the Chief as a symbol is to recognize this heritage from a proud and courageous people in as dignified and inspirational manner as possible. Is our society becoming so overly politically correct and concerned with the opinions of every minuscule opposition group that we must abandon all other opinion or reason? I remember attending the football game at Illinois several years ago when the current Chief's headdress and uniform was dedicated in a ceremony involving decendants of the Illini indian tribe. I recall being very moved by the fact that so much attention was paid to treating the ceremony in as dignified a manner as possible. Why doesn't the fringe group that is most vocal in their opposition to the Chief spend some of their misplaced energy on issues of much greater interest to native americans, such as improving the standard of living on many reservations, combatting widespread poverty, improving healthcare, raising public awareness of real indian issues, etc. Instead of eliminating the Chief, why don't we all work to continue and improve this proud tradition with input from a diverse group of true native american leaders instead of continuing to listen to the ravings of a bunch of self-appointed wannabes?

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As an University of Illinois graduate, I am extremely proud to have the Chief as our symbol. Symbol, not mascot, because you NEVER see him working the crowd like Willie the Wildcat or Wisconsin's Badger. For myself and Illini everywhere, the Chief continues to embody the Spirit of old Illinois. It keeps us marching and singing, in true Illini Spirit, for our dear old Illinois.

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As an University of Illinois graduate, I am extremely proud to have the Chief as our symbol. Symbol, not mascot, because you NEVER see him working the crowd like Willie the Wildcat or Wisconsin's Badger. For myself and Illini everywhere, the Chief continues to embody the Spirit of old Illinois. It keeps us marching and singing, in true Illini Spirit, for our dear old Illinois.

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Dump Chief Illiniwek? Never! Please! I am a University of Illinois alum ('79) and never ever have I seen the image of the Chief used in a cheap fashion. The garb and demeanor, the dance he does, has always been handled with what I consider the utmost dignity. You certainly can't compare what you see on the University of Illinois atheltic field with the ugly cartoonish Indian of the Cleveland Indians, for example. Now THAT is offensive! The Chief does not, as far as I know, go to shopping mall openings and sign autographs, the image is not on tea towels or bathroom tissue. To me, Chief Illiniwek has always been a symbol of a strong, proud institution that encourages growth and the nurturance of the land and its people. given that many tribes lived in Illinois, I find it very fitting to have this strong symbol for my alma mater. Would I favor an animal such as a slug (UC-Santa Cruz) or a duck (as they have in Oregon)? Or even a color (Cardinal, whatever in the heck that is), as they do where I work (Stanford)? NO way!

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I graduated from University of Illinois in 1991. The Chief is a very respected, and respectful, icon and should not be lumped in the same category as the mascots of the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians. I think the Chief does a great service to a culture and a people that would be all but forgotten by the mainstream without it. I truly hope that the University of Illinois does not bow beneath the pressure of some well-meaning but misguided groups which seek to eliminate the Chief.

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Illinois should definately NOT get rid of Chief Illiniwek. As an alumni, I found a great deal in pride knowing that the Chief was the symbol of a great university, both academically and athletically. To say that having the Chief is racist is ridiculous because it is there to honor the Illini Indians, not to mock. I have heard that what offends them the most is the dance that the Chief does during halftime at games. The fact is that the person who portrays Chief Illiniwek must go to an actual reservation and learn the dance from the Illini themselves. The fact that the movements are exaggerated is reasonable considering that the dance is designed so that 70,000 people at a football game can see it. If Chief Illiniwek leaves Illinois, I along with many other alumni will feel much less connected to the University of Illinois.

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As a proud alumnus of the University of Illinois, I am very much in favor of the Chief as the symbol of the strong-willed Illini. Honestly, I am not of the Illini heritage and so can not fully understand what they are feeling. I would like to hear the opinions of the Illini tribe, a representative, not just a random individual. We have heard from people of different Native American background, but to my recollection not from the Illini tribe itself, the only true opinion that should count.

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As an alumni of University of Illinois, I don't see a reason to get rid of the Chief. I am 50 percent Scandinavian and I haven't once been offended by the Minnesota Vikings use of my harritage or any of the fans that dress up in the stands. The University of Illinois treats the Chief with the highest regard. He is not a mascot, but a symbol of honor. He is not parading around the field during the game or making a fool of himself in any way. He comes out once and dances a native dance that was taught to us by the indian tribe itself. the fans also treat him with respect. People don't dress up in indian garb or wave their hands in a chopping motion. I was at the bowl game down here in December and was proud to see the Chief dance and light up the crowd. Since living in Florida, I have seen how the people react to the Florida State mascot. They don't see him as a problem. Why should we. I am honored to have gone to University of Illinois and the Chief will always be my symbol. Nothing will ever change my mind.

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I think the University of Illinois should keep the Chief as its symbol. The Chief is a beloved and honored representative of the University and is always presented in a tasteful fashion. To remove this homage to the state's heritage is to take political correctness to an absurd extreme. I remember seeing the Chief at games when I was a young child and it always filled me with excitement and I looked forward to the day when I, too, could become a part of that proud tradition.  I earned my B.A. at the University of Illinois in 1992. Chief Illiniwek is a revered symbol of pride for University of Illinois students and alumni everywhere. He does not mock Native American traditions; he brings them honor. If the Chief behaved or appeared like "Chief Wahoo" the silly red-faced Cleveland Indian mascot with the toothy grin, I could understand the anger. In contrast, Chief Illiniwek commands respect and showcases long-standing, proud historical traditions. It would be a tremendous mistake to cast away the Chief due to the persistent attacks of a few politically correct voices. The university should not make the mistake of adopting a vanilla, devoid of tradition "mascot" in place of its history.

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The fact that the university has chosen to use the Illiniwek Indian tribe as their symbol/mascot should be considered a great compliment to those of Indian heritage. In my mind, it symbolizes that they were considered to be great warriors, unwilling to back down to any threat, even when the odds were against them. It in no way represents to me that they in any way were overly aggressive people and initiated conflict (I'm sure the opposite is true). I do see however how some people of Indian descent could find the dance routine somewhat offensive (I'm not sure if the dance is historically accurate). Maybe something in the dance routine could be altered to satisfy opponents. In any case, this issue pales in comparison to teams such as the Washington Redskins, or the high school Morris Redskins, whereby they are definitely utilizing a racial slur. In any case, society is going too far over the edge in reacting to hypersensitive people, and we need to draw the line here and not give in.

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Keep him. The tradition is very respectful of Indians.

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Have we gotten to the point where every thing that we say and do will be put to the Politically Correct litmus test? No one is saying that to look at Chief Illiwek is to be making fun of Native Americans! If it was the practice of the student body and others to treat the Chief with disprespect and ignorant actions, then Yes by all means the Chief should be removed. But this is not the case. To the contrary, the Chief is a symbol of strength and ability; and it is the job of this person to raise the spirts and the enthusiasm of the crowd. If we were to put as much emphasis on the things that really need to be addressed instead of worring about being Politically Correct, the real issues concerning the Native Americans and others would not be lost. It's time people get off the high horse and worry about the important things.

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The Chief...the idea that that his use is racist and outdated is ridiculous and absurd, and merely another 'politically correct' foray by selective people and organizations into the systematic eradication of tradition.

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I think the University of Illinois should continue the long-standing tradition of Chief Illiniwek. The chief is not a mascot that is running around at the games trying to get the crowd excited. The dance performed by the chief at halftime is a tribute to the Illniwek Indian tribe and their prowd heritage.

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The state name of Illinois is from Illini Indian Nation. The first white men in the Illinois region were probably the French explorers Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette, about 1673. The French settlers that came after Joliet and Marquette named the region for the Illinois or Illini Indians. These Indians formed a group of united tribes that lived in the, prior to the white men. They called themselves ILLINIWEK (Superior Men) The name Illinois came from the early French settlers pronunication of Illiniwek. Keep the Uninversity of Illinois Mascot. It demonstrates the respect properly due the Illinois Tribe. If not, we should consider changing the name of the State of Illinois and all of the other states named after Indian nations. The groups against using the mascot and name of Illiniwek do not know their history. But that will not stop the socialutopians. All they want to do is take this country back to the 17th century.