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

The "chief" is blatantly offensive and is an embarrassment to Illinois residents and fans. As a proud Illinoisan, it shames me to think that the Land of Lincoln is represented by that symbol. It has such national exposure (i.e. University of Illinois sporting events), so the entire country can witness our ignorance. Get rid of it already!

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I understand the appeal of the mascot. However, as an alumnus and one sensitive to the representation and portrayal of ethnic/racial groups over the years, a face-painted bare-foot war dance does little to engender the spirit and mission of the Illini on the central Illinois prairie more than a century and a half ago. The time has come to abandon the chief, and honor the tribe with the nickname. This is a sensible compromise.

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It is absurd, if I decided my mascot was a catholic priest or even the pope and ran around the field crossing myself and saying rosaries, this tradition would have lasted about five minutes, before the outrage and considerable political power of the Catholics would have put a stop to my "tradition". The only reason this tradition has lasted as long as it has is because Native Americans have no real political power. Sadly many people have no empathy for this situation, since they don't see Native Americans as real people.

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Yes it is time to find another mascot, another way to represent school spirit. U of I, class of 1972. Chief Illinwek was always exciting at basketball games, etc., but if Native American people feel it is inappropriate to have him as a mascot then it is time to honor their wishes, time to, if possible, make peace.

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As a student at the University of Illinois in Champaign, I find it absolutely appalling that our mascot is such a blatant racial stereotype. I do not understand how a public institution can use a religious symbol as a mascot to dance around a football field at halftime. To help make it clearer, it is like having Jesus Christ out there while fans cheer him on. Many people would find that disrespectful, why can't they apply that to the "chief"? It seems to me that in this day and age, people would have overcome this incredible ignorance but apparently not. As far as the fear that the University will lose money from alumni and other support groups, many people don't know that there is an alumni association that refuses to donate money to the University until the "chief" is removed as the mascot. Alumni Against Racist Mascots (AARM) has many members and it keeps growing every year. The support for the "chief" on campus is dwindling as well. Go to any football game and you hear more "boos" than cheers when the "chief" comes out onto the field. One can still support the sports teams and the University without necessarily having to support the "chief". In my opinion, the easiest thing would be to get rid of the "chief" and replace it with another mascot. Many teams have done it, why not U of I?

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Yes, it is time the University "retire" Illiniwek. It is time that Native people be treated with the respect proffered to all people by not having a mascot objectifying them. Native people are *people* not mascots. It is also time that non-Natives listen to Native people before they decide they are honoring Native people. Honoring and respecting Native people -- any people -- means listening to them, especially when they say something offends them, dishonors them, disrespects them. Racist mascots are not acceptable; they never have been. It is time that non-Natives come to this realization.

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I attended graduate school at the University of Illinois and had a great time attending football and basketball games there. However, the appearance of the Chief Illiwek “mascot" always cast a chill on the event. The use of Illiwek is offensive to Native Americans, and it should be replaced out of respect for their feelings. It's that simple. What's wrong with the Illinois Cheetahs? Start a new tradition--one that doesn't use any group of people as a sports team mascot.

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Yes, U of I should get rid of Chief Illiniwek. If Native Americans say this symbol is offensive to their heritage then the University should be sensitive that. To say that Native Americans should "get over it" is like saying Blacks should "get over" slavery and Jews should "get over" the Holocaust. Unless you are a member of the affected ethnic group, you might not be offended by references like this. But if a group of people are offended by a symbol, we should all be sensitive to that fact whether we understand it or not. Besides, maybe the U of I can have a contest to replace Illiniwek and start and new tradition that is not offensive. This should be easy for people in higher education. It is time for the U of I to admit that the use of this symbol is a mistake and change it to something that is not controversial.

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The use of any ethnic or racial group, living or dead, for the purpose of inciting a crowd of disinterested individuals at a sporting event seems wrong to me. If the university is truly interested in honoring the Illiniwek then they should retire the mascot/symbol and name some buildings or campuses after them, or make sure that all Illinois graduates KNOW who the Illiniwek were and why they should not be forgotten or caricatured.

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Because the dance and costume, etc. are not well representative of the traditions it is disrespectful to Indian-Americans. It should be banned unless it is changed to reflect accurate historical references.

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How easy it is to accuse others of being "politically correct", whenever they don't agree with your opinion. Many people have stated that Chief Illiniwek is portrayed respectfully and with dignity. My answer to that is "SO," it is still wrong. As others have more eloquently stated, if this was any other race or ethnicity being "respectfully portrayed," this tradition would have stopped a long time ago. You can write with tears in your eyes about how important this was to you when your were a student, but it is still wrong. And if it truly is this important to you, you may want to take a long hard look at your life. How does one respectfully portray a group of people by making them a mascot? Also to a few others out there who compared this to Notre Dame, Leprechauns are not real people.

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I think it's time to find an alternative to the Chief, put this controversy behind us and move on.

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When I was in my 2nd year at U of I, my fraternity brothers were trying to convince me to try out for being The Chief. Scott Christianson was graduating and my only serious competition was the eventual Chief Biff Forsythe. "You guys really don't want me to be the Chief, believe me," I told them. "If I'm Chief, U. of I. will be running the risk of me dropping the whole song, dance and headdress, right there in the middle of halftime and proclaim the entire tradition a racist display."  I felt that way then, back in the '80s and I think it's even worse now. The language of tolerance has no room for white boys dancing around in war paint and eagle feathers. It's disgusting. I wish those John Rocker loving fools down in Atlanta would get the same message with their obnoxious tomahawk chop. I can easily see a screwball like Rocker existing on a team in a city that tolerates that racist display, despite being the home of the Rev. Dr. King.

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Chief Illiniwek is not "honoring" American Indians. You cannot use someone who supposedly represents a nation of people as a mascot without turning him and thus them into a character. This makes the people the "mascot" represents less human. Chief Illiniwek does for American Indians what minstrel shows did for African Americans and what the cartoon character Speedy Gonzales did for Mexicans. Those are incredibly offensive images that mocked the people they supposedly represented.  I am active in American Indian issues, such as the rash of unsolved, brutal murders of Natives in Pine Ridge and Rapid City, SD, and the harassment of Dineh Elders in Arizona. Such supposed "honoring" of Indians is not seen by an honor by them. Maybe not all Indians are bothered by Chief Illiniwek, but all of the ones that I work with and know are. I am white, and Chief Illiniwek bothers and shames me. Let old racist icons die out. And let Chief Illiniwek be the next one.

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I believe the keeping of this 'mascot' image is wrong. However I am also fairly sure that this opinion will show as a minority opinion--which is predictable. Native-American people statistically represent approximately 1 to 2 percent of the total current population of the United States. It wasn't that way once, but it is that way now. Now we are a population barely big enough to register a blip on the radar screen of public opinion. Further, most Natives don't have access to computers and therefore will not be posting an opinion here. Those who do are most likely working on broader issues like health care for native people, housing, education, economic development, culture preservation, language preservation--all "bigger" issues that, of course, are not impacted by whether or not learned institutions think that caricatures of a whole race is an honor or not, but whose efforts may in fact be impacted by the inherently condescending attitude held within a world view that supports such "mascot" taking of a whole people.  I question the validity of this forum as a way to truly measure in an equitable way the opinion of those whom this issue affects. I don't know what it's point truly is--however here is at least one voice saying that if the image is offensive to the people it is meant to honor then how can it possibly be an honor? It would be an honor to be heard. It would be an honor to be treated in a respectful way without having to educate an educational institution on what constitutes condescending behavior to a people. It is not an honor to have a symbol of a people used as a "mascot."

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For generations Chief Illiniwek has performed for football and basketball crowds at University of Illinois half-time shows. There is no doubt, this has entertained sports fans who may otherwise have been bored during a break in the sporting action, but this fun has come at great cost to the university's reputation. It is time for the university to retire this offensive stereotype before our state's premier public university becomes a national disgrace in its position toward minorities generally and Native people specifically. The university can no longer ignore the Native Americans' repeated requests for removal of this mascot. A phalanx of national academic groups who are sensitive to Native-American issues has boycotted or threatened to boycott the Urbana-Champaign campus. It is safe to assume that if the University Trustees continue to ignore the Native-American pleas (and now the pleas of national academia) that the Urbana-Champaign campus will be viewed nationally as a campus of exclusion and intolerance. It is especially disturbing that supporters view the Chief Illiniwek mascot portion of half-time shows as a fitting memorial to the extinct Illini Indians, who populated parts of Illinois prior to the arrival of Europeans. Illiniwek's dance routine, contrived by various undergraduate students, makes no attempt to resemble authentic dances of any Native people. Even the costume is not that of the Illini, but rather of the Lakota's. Such lumping of all Indians into one broad group is akin to "honoring” French culture by dancing a polka while wearing a kilt. This sort of cultural insensitivity from an otherwise outstanding academic institution is outrageous. There certainly are better ways the University could pay homage to the Illini Indians. With little more effort or expense than is used for entertaining sports fans, the University of Illinois could establish a museum that accurately portrays the Illini. The University's anthropology department could offer or expand courses in Native-American culture and history. The university could sponsor Native-American scholars of national reputation to raise the consciousness of students and the public with respect to Native-American issues. Finally, to honor Native Americans, the University Trustees could take far stronger measures to encourage Native Americans to attend the university by creating an environment in which they could be comfortable. A first and obvious step to this end would be to eliminate their stereotypical mascot from sporting events. The dawn of the 21st century is a particularly auspicious time to remove remaining symbols of intolerance. The deaf ear the University has turned to those who have   objected to this mascot over many years has significantly frustrated any attempts the university may have made at achieving real diversity. Continuing such arrogance would now place at risk the university's reputation as an academic leader. Entertainment of half-time fans hardly seems worth the price.

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A great university like the U. of I. should not be embroiled in controversy regarding a symbol on a football field offensive to Native Americans. What has this to do with academe! Get rid of this offensive symbol. The U. of I. is too prone to use litigation AND SPEND HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS OF TAYPAYERS' MONEY, instead of developing sensitivity towards women and minorities. I know this firsthand, because I worked for the U. of I. for more than 20 years.

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Dressing up as an Indian (Hollywood version) and dancing (Hollywood version) to entertain a half-time crowd (at least half of whom have been drinking and many of whom are drunk) should have gone out of style with Al Jolson, or at least little black sambo. I am an alum of Illinois (B.A. '73, M.A. '77) and former resident of Illinois, and I find Illiniwek to be a national (perhaps international) embarrassment. That it still exists and is vigorously defended by the U. of I. is a sorry sign that my alma mater is run by people with no principle or empathy. How empty are their lives if they must turn to Illiniwek for meaning?

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After reading the previous responses to the question at hand, I have found that many of those opposed to the retirement of the Chief are quite self-absorbed, ignorant and furthermore apathetic. As a graduate of U. of I. (my father is also an alum) and a staunch opponent of the use of the Chief, I have done my homework. I hear the same arguments time and time again. I would like to address some of these arguments and the manner in which they display the apathy and ignorance of Chief supporters. First, many tout the performance and portrayal of the Chief as accurate and respectful. Ask anyone familiar with traditional Native dance and they will tell you it's inaccurate. Many claim that the Chief is an accurate portrayal of Native people once living in Illinois. Actually, the Chief appears in an outfit crafted by Sioux people, an enemy of the Illinois Confederation. Obviously, people should do their homework. Many have claimed that the mascot/symbol (the distinction is irrelevant) is not intended to harm anyone, and that taking it away would actually harm supporters of the Chief. It's simply a time-honored tradition that means more than anyone can know to graduates of the university. WE don't think it's offensive. How self-absorbed have people become? Regardless of intent and other sentiment it is obvious that many Native people as well as their supporters oppose the use of such images. To ignore those voices is to invalidate the existence of a people that has been and continues to be marginalized at many different levels.

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I've noticed that people speak of Native groups in the past tense. It's almost as if Native people have completely disappeared, and we're somehow doing them a favor by keeping their memory alive. Luckily, a small population did survive the genocide and disease, and some of them have spoken out in this very forum. Will anyone listen? Of course not, because it's just a "microminority" of liberals trying to rock the boat. If it wasn't for a minority of those politically correct, perpetually displeased liberals I might still be drinking out of a water fountain labeled "white only." The fact that supporters of the Chief are so quick to blame liberals who have chosen such an unworthy cause points to the inability and perhaps unwillingness to engage in any useful dialogue on this issue.  Further, it shows that they obviously could care less what Native people have to say about the manner in which they are portrayed. Notre Dame is an Irish Catholic university. They chose the mascot. The Vikings weren't intentionally given smallpox infected blankets by the U.S. Army and forced onto often useless tracts of land called reservations. Native people didn't choose the Chief. I guess it goes to show that doing your homework helps. The apathy, ignorance, arrogance and selfishness is astounding. Supporters of the Chief should be ashamed.

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It amazes me that ANYONE can NOT see that this ignorant clown who pretends to be chief is the worst kind of racist insult. If we took a white man and dressed him in blackface, rubber lips, and an Afro wig, had him wave a big hambone and doing a "stepinfechit" routine and shuffling around, anyone with a brain could see this was an insult to all blacks. Why can't you see this is no different? It amazes me that ANYONE can NOT see that this is also RELIGIOUS bigotry against native beliefs. Would anyone dare to dress up as a rabbi or Catholic priest while carrying a menorah or a big crucifix and do high kicks like a clown, mocking the Jewish or Catholic faith?

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This is NOT respectful to the Illini people, because the "chief" is dressed up like a SIOUX Indian and NOT an Illini. How ignorant can you get?  Please, you are embarrassing yourselves before the whole nation with this small minded, clinging, ignorant display of racism and religious bigotry. Everyday the so-called "chief" stays brings more shame upon the University of Illinois, its students, its alumni and its community.

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I think the U.of I. attitude in this matter is reminiscent of the racist attitude that led to the decimation of Native-American peoples. If Native Americans are offended by the mascot, why continue it? The pride and arrogance of the university on this issue ranks right up there with Pharaoh.

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I understand the appeal of the mascot. However, as an alumnus and one sensitive to the representation and portrayal of ethnic/racial groups over the years, a face-painted, bare-foot war dance does little to engender the spirit and mission of the Illini on the central Illinois prairie more than a century and a half ago.  The time has come to abandon the Chief and honor the tribe with the nickname. This is a sensible compromise.

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As an Ojibwe woman, mother and educator, I implore, I beg the U of I to remove their mascot. They say they are honoring us, respecting us..... I have been to U of I for peaceful protest and have seen their so called respect.....Our image on toilet paper, Port-a-potties, seat cushions. They pour beer on us, spit on us, yell racial slurs at us, show us their middle finger. Respect, honor...I think not. These are some of the most educated, uneducated people I have ever seen. Your symbol truly bothers my children. They have been taught traditional ways and your "chief" makes mockery of our beliefs. Let's get a rabbi or priest out there doing a jig... If you are not native how can you speak on a culture you haven't got a clue about?Illinois did a good job of the forced removal of most natives from this state. Will the dominant culture not be happy till they have completely exterminated who and what we are? Then we can be portrayed as what they perceive. For the sake of my children and my children's children, enough is enough. Everything is connected in the circle of life. I will fight this till I take my last breath.

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I think it is insulting and demeaning to the first nations of this land to have a school mascot that seems to portray a native person. It is also an insult to them that wannabe school fans try to pretend to be native (or at least dress like it) Tell them to get a life. No one would dream of having black sambo as a mascot. Treat the first nation people with the same respect.

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I am deeply embarrassed and puzzled why my home state's university cannot understand how the mascot Chief Illiniwek is offensive and racist to the indigenous people of our nation. To the victors go the spoils and the writing of history is among the spoils. The Native Americans were depicted as savages. Their culture was looked upon as being inferior to the European settlers. Their way of life was permanently altered. Yet their culture survives. Considering that the worst genocide in recent history was the slaughter of the Native Americans (over 90% of their population was decimated in less than 400 years) I do not see the difference between what the U of I does with what a university in Germany would do if they had a dehumanized caricature of a rabbi as a mascot. That would be unimaginable! Yet this is what exists in Champaign-Urbana! Could you imagine the insensitivity and stupidity if a member of this imaginary German university would rationalize the existence of the Rabbi mascot by arguing that the Jews are being honored by the mascot? Yet, that is exactly what is happening in Illinois today! W.E.B. Dubois wrote with insight almost 100 years ago that "the problem of the Twentieth century is the color line." Our greatest social problem of the last century was the color line. Sadly, it took over half a century for our nation to allow all its citizens the true right to be equal.
    Now, I see the greatest problem of the 21st century to be the issue of diversity. We are a changing nation, like it or not. Congress is considering amending immigration laws to allow more foreign high tech workers to enter our work force. These workers bring with them their own set of values and culture. The European-based ethnocentricity of our nation must recognize the validity of other cultures. Especially the culture of a people that were here long before any white settler stepped foot in the New World. We need to be sensitive and respectful of what they consider sacred.
       We can look back 100 years and hang our heads in collective shame when we think how ignorant many of our ancestors were to people of a different race. It is easy to rationalize their behavior by saying that they were products of their time. But people need to have the courage to accept the truth that will free them from these chains of their environment. Realize that in 2100 people will look back and hang their head in shame that you could be so blatantly offensive and racist and not even have a clue!  Chief Illiniwek needs to go and he needs to go last week!

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If you meet a Native American on a personal basis, you are struck by a certain sadness that seems to be an integral part of his/her personality. It is as if history and life itself as left him without a great deal of optimism. I don't want to stereotype as that idiotic Chief Illinifake does, but why must we further contribute to Native American's dismay? As if enough deceit has not been perpetrated on the American Indian, past and present, so let's knock it off by the gesture of retiring the phony chief!!

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To William Englebrecht and the UI Board of Trustees: Do you realize the horribly racist image that the university is supporting by continuing to promote an "Indian  mascot"? If I was a future scholar looking for a college to submit my tuition dollars, I'd be concerned about the school's insensitivity to multi-cultural issues. How could I trust the university's HISTORY curriculum? "Oh never mind that genocide stuff, let's just talk about how morally superior and prosperous we are." Even though it's tradition (like the Confederate flag) and seemingly benign (to non-Native Americans), as a taxpayer of this great state of Illinois and supporter of on-going education, I STRONGLY urge you to give up your mocking representation of Native American culture.

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This mascot is a symbol of the on-going racist attitudes and behaviors that permeate the United States. There is no regard or respect for Native Spirituality or Native Religion. Feathers are worn by those who have earned the honor. This is Native Culture and Religion. The Native Spirituality and religion is dishonored and disrespected daily by this mascot. This is not something to be done simply for fun.   Native people hold those who have earned the honor to wear the feather/s in deep regard. This mascot makes light of it without remorse. It's time to stop the racism!

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Hello I am Pam Thompson, Mississippi Band of Choctaw. There are several reasons why Indian mascots should be a thing of the past. First of all is the total racist image portrayed of First Nations people (Indians). Speaking from the view of an Indian woman, to see ones own life, race, religion and image of a people who have given EVERYTHING to this country be degraded once again. By the very people who are teaching children to be racist in America is a disgrace, not only for the Indians, but also for all people of this country. It is enough, it is time to stop, it is NOW time to make a change in the racist mentality of 21st Century America. Understand we the people, true natives of this country, are not willing to give anything else. We are a race, we are a people, we are alive we are NOT mascots. We deserve all the respect and all the honor that is deserved, being the rightful owners of this country. It is a shame and a disgrace to portray this counties native peoples as mascots not for us, but for you.

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To those who brand anti-Chief people as "politically correct" and "wannabes" and challenge them to redirect their ideas into "something more productive," I have these questions: What do YOU do to help the plight of Native Americans? Are YOU aware of the indigenous community's position around the nation? Most would rather see it retired. While it is a valid point that Chief Illiniwek is less blatantly insulting as Chief Wahoo (Cleveland) or the old Chief Nock-a-Homa (Atlanta), that doesn't mitigate it at all.  The name is "Fighting Illini." Why do they have to be "fighting?" Historically, Indian nations fought little amongst themselves, indeed less than Europeans liked to. That name implies to the uneducated that all Indians are aggressive, a stereotype many have, anyway. They can put all the "dignity" they wish into these little ceremonies here. I just hope to one day see "dignity" in the ceremony that retires him forever. There's nothing else to symbolize this state?

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Why is it that people continue to insist that racist mascots and symbols are an honor?  I hate to tell you this folks but honor doesn't begin when it leaves the mouth of the person doing the honoring but when it reaches the ears of the person being honored. How many of you would support a mascot who was a caricature of an African American? Probably not many, at least not openly. Things will change, maybe not today but soon. The time where racists have their way is coming to an end.

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The question is "should the U of I dump the 'chief' as their mascot?" and the answer is "Absolutely". I have witnessed the "chief's" antics and they, in no way, represent any type of American Indian dance or ceremony. It is a vile, repulsive exhibition of racism at it's worst. The gymnastic antics of the "chief" defame traditional American Indian dance and culture. From the fraudulent reproduction of regalia, to the childish antics, mocking centuries old tradition, the "chief" and all he represents are sickening reminders to us that non-Indians in this country view American Indian people as either "noble savages", "tourist attractions" or "mascots for America's fun and games". If this is supposed to be done to "honor" American Indian people...thanks, but we've had enough honor. Honor another race for a while and see what the reactions of those race's members are. This is not an issue of tradition...at least not to Indian people. This is not an issue of political correctness. This is an issue involving our attempts to show our children that we are not mascots; nor do we act like the "chief" in any way, shape or form.  I suggest that the fans of the "chief" remove the painted chicken feathers from their hair, wipe off their wive's maybelline, and grow up just a bit.  "An honor is not an honor when it leaves the honorer's lips, but rather when it reaches the honorees ear."  We are not honored, nor amused, nor in solidarity with the "chief" or his backers.

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I am in favor of doing away with Chief Illiniwek. I have been to a few basketball games in Champaign and to watch students worship this mascot is totally degrading. I would guess that most Illinois students know very little about the struggles Native Americans have gone through. It is difficult for them to relate because it doesn't affect them and that makes it okay. Well it's not. I am not of Native American descent and it offends me. When a young boy/girl that is Native American watches a local telecast and sees a chief, someone of great honor and respect, being hung upside down by other teams fans it tears a hole in something they have been raised to believe. It is a travesty and the University needs to change its name. Watching someone dance with warpaint and a headdress and try to replicate a dance of extremely high honor is disgusting.

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If we are ever going to walk down the path of healing the bigotry in our country, we must stop allowing offensive and bigoted symbols to be used as sports mascots. Using symbols that represent living, breathing people allows a culture to relegate those people to "non-important" status. If you need a case in point, Hitler used this very method to demean groups of people that he felt were inferior. Again and again, I've heard the argument that American Indian mascots are a means of honoring First Nation People. It's not the group doing the offending that gets to decide how a singled-out group of people should or shouldn't feel. It's the group that's being belittled that gets to stand up and say "Your sports mascot is offensive me!" My uncles, brothers, cousins do not look or act like this cartoonish character that you use as a mascot. It's not an honor it's an insult.

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The University of Illinois has been unresponsive so far in listening to opponents of Chief Illiniwek and other racist Native American mascots of sports team. Every protest, has been ignored. The Board of Trustee (until recently) decided it wasn't even important enough to put on it's agenda. The question of whether or not such a symbol is racist would not come up if the subject of the symbol were African-American, Jewish or any other minority group in the United States. There would be no question if the symbol represented a holy man of white America, e.g. a priest or a rabbi running around during half-time. So, why do we have to have a debate on a symbol of a white person dressed in incorrect Illinois (tribe) ritualistic attire, defaming a part of a group's religion? We have to debate only because, Native Americans are invisible to most Americans. They are not our neighbors or our friends of our children. The only thing most Americans know about Native Americans has come from inaccurate depictions such as Chief Illiniwek or old westerns they might have seen as children. If we did we'd certainly be embarrassed that we've let things progress this far without taking stock and asking ourselves is this right? While Chief Illiniwek isn't the most embarrassing and racist symbol (think Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians) of Native Americans in sports teams, it is still an embarrassment. It's proponents need to stop thinking of themselves. Tradition? So what! Get rid of it.

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I am a student, and cannot fathom how it is that there are contemporaries of mine who still see this outdated symbol of racial ignorance as a symbol of "pride" and "honor." What is the pride and honor in that? Where does that benefit them? These same pro-Chief students are most often whites from Barrington, Hoffman Estates, Tinley Park, and Lake Forest, and have likely never seen an actual Native American in person. There is no honor in having something that doesn't even represent them in any way represent our school.  It has been proven that the dance (done by a Caucasian student seen at halftime of football and basketball games is a misrepresentation of the traditions of the all-but extinct Illini nation. Here on campus, there isn't a Native American studies program, there are few classes in other disciplines dedicated to them, and the few Native faculty and students are very low-key due to the environment here. Other ways to display Native American life (exhibits, etc.) are often hollow. It surprises me little that the Board of Trustees is stalling on the issue postponing the discussions from January to April, most of them being Pro-Chief anyway. The "dialogue" that was promised on the issue was only proposed as a result of arm-twisting by external factors. Even that is transparent; for now, one may express their opinion through e-mail. E-mail? Most of the anti-Chief population here (more formidable than is often acknowledged) agree that there will probably be little tangible change in the matter. Most of the board consists of older men, and alumni of around the same age are largely pro-Chief, attending this university in an era when it was en vogue to explicitly lessen groups of color. These same suburban alumni instill this attitude on their children, who now attend with me. Pro-Chief persons are people who don't know what it's like to experience racism in this or any other format. As an African-American from the South Side, I'm aware of discrimination. The vast majority of the minority student population, not unaccustomed to discrimination themselves, are united against the mascot, for we can understand the idiocy of dehumanizing a minority group. No human should be a mascot. No organization should have ever made Native Americans their symbol, even in the early 20th century. It is ridiculous to see that in the beginning of an entire new era of human existence, an institution of higher learning would still do such. This university professes so much to be a leader of the Big Ten and the nation's institutions, but the people who run it are grossly backward-minded. This University needs to get with the times and follow the trend of schools around the nation in changing their mascots. As long as Chief Illiniwek is this school's symbol and the subject of so much controversy, it will be a black eye on an otherwise great university. Apologies for the tangent, but this is a strong issue, and I will state my opinions to the Board when they allow.

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Chief Illiniwek should be retired and placed in the museum along with little Black Sambo, Stepin Fetchit, and the other insulting icons created by America for its own entertainment. We should be well past the time when it is worth insulting and embarrassing a large group of Americans for our amusement at a sporting event. To me, this entire controversy is symbolized by the audacity of the white establishment at the University of Illinois to lecture Native Americans on what is or is not an insult to their heritage and culture. An Illini alum pleads with its alma mater to be a light on  the hill, not another shadow cast on the orginal citizens of this state. Grow up.