About 50 people met outside Swanlund Administration Building on Friday, Oct. 22, at noon. A group calling itself "Students for a United Illinois," made up of 19 different localorganizations, is holding a series of events this weekend to protest a pro-Chief rally this homecoming weekend and pressure the University of Illinois administration for a new mascot. They are holding a counter-demonstration outside of Assembly Hall on Saturday at 5 p.m. and an after-party at ARC.(Story Continues)
Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center
October 20, 2010
chief 101 - Understanding the chief Illiniwek controversy
While the controversy surrounding 'the chief' can be described quite simply, resolving it seems to be anything but.
When supporters of 'the chief' look at him they see one thing, and when others look at him they see something else altogether, therefore almost all of the arguments about 'the chief' in some sense revolve around a fundamental disagreement over who and what he actually is. (Story Continues http://www.iresist.org/chief101.html)
June 13, 2010
Radio Liberación! Sunday June 13, 2010 on
WEFT 90.1 FM Champaign, IL
On March 4th, 2010 several organizations on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus and people across the country gathered to “march forth” in a National Day of Action to Defend Public Education. At UIUC, more than 300 came together for a spirited rally on what turned out to be the first sunny day of the new Spring.
The march began at the Alma Mater statue with a dedication to the Native American peoples who “granted” the land on which this land grant university was built. Miriam Larson led a modern-day adaptation of the classic Woody Guthrie song: “This land is your land, This land is my land, From Illinois to California, From Minnesota to Arizona, Land grants were made for you and me!”
After two days of picketing in stormy weather, the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) emerged victorious. The GEO called a strike on Monday, November 16, after contract negotiations broke down over the issue of tuition waivers for out-of-state graduate students. Their strike is an example of how sheer people power can push back against the growing corporatization of public education. (Story Continues at: http://ucimc.org/content/geo-wins-strike-after-two-days-picketing )
REPORT OF A
COMPREHENSIVE EVALUATION VISIT TO THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, URBANA-CHAMPAIGN
For The Higher Learning Commission: A Commission of
the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Issued January 12, 2010
has done much to address diversity and campus climate. Many of the efforts are
outlined in documents such as the Project 2012 Transforming Illinois: Reenvisioning Diversity and Inclusion and some of the actions
taken are included in the report to the HLC in response to the April 2004
focused visit. Further, the Self-study reports significant increases in
underrepresented students (5.6%), faculty of color (91.3%) and academic
professionals (42.9%). Positions, such as the Associate Vice President for
Student Affair/Intercultural Relations, have been added to enhance diversity
efforts. The Division of Student Affairs, in particular, has taken significant
efforts to address campus climate. For example, in January 2009 the Student
Affairs Diversity Training and Programs Committee was convened. The Committee was charged with determining the need for a training
program and identifying targets for diversity education; identifying best
practices; developing programs and modules to be piloted in 2009-2010; and
developing methods for assessment of the programs. The final report was
submitted in June 20, 2009. Some of the recommendations are currently being
implemented. A significant step was taken by the Chancellor’s Office in
providing tenure-track positions to the ethnic studies programs, which will
soon achieve departmental status. In spite of all these efforts some challenges
remain. The number of African American students has leveled off. Additional
efforts will need to be instituted to increase the number of African Americans
students enrolling in the University. Additionally, some students, faculty and
staff feel that the University is not being aggressive enough in addressing
diversity issues. The issue with the Chief is used as an example of the
institution taking too long to address important issues and not taking
advantage of opportunities to promote constructive dialogue."
Section University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
"It appears to the
members of the team that many of the efforts put forth by the
University are not being recognized by some students, faculty and staff.
It is recommended that he administration institute additional communication
efforts to reach the groups raising concerns. One recommendation is that
administrative staff members seek out and meet with small groups of affected
students and staff and work at gaining their trust, advice, and
recommendations. It is also recommended that they take advantage of the many
alumni of color who love the University to help carry the message. The
University should be commended for its efforts in implementing new initiatives toincrease diversity and improve the institutional climate
for under-represented individuals and now needs to communicate and coordinate
those efforts to those most impacted."
C. Adequacy of
Progress in Addressing Previously Identified Challenges
Pages 9 & 10
"The 1999 HLC team
expressed concerns over the campus climate for diversity and inclusion in
general, the controversy over Chief Illiniwek in
particular, and the recruitment and retention of under-represented faculty and
staff members. The team acknowledges significant progress concerning the
recruitment and retention of under-represented faculty and staff members. HLC
focused visit teams in 2002 and 2004 continued to express very Assurance
Section University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign/1872 10 January 12, 2010
strong concern over the divisiveness and damage to the campus of the Chief Illiniwek issue.
Chief was “retired” in 2007(as noted concerning Criterion 1 and in the
Advancement Report), there is a need for greater institutional attention,
innovative approaches, and bold action concerning the campus climate for
diversity and inclusion. Failure to address this issue undermines other
institutional efforts that target improving diversity. In addition,
differential treatment and responses to diversity issues involving
underrepresented groups by university administration perpetuate the hostile
environment for under-represented students, faculty, and staff and undermine
other efforts to improve diversity. UIUC needs to focus greater institutional
attention and action to improve the campus climate for diversity and inclusion."
OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION
UIUC (page 34)
of the institution has been damaged by the 2009 admissions scandaland the resulting administrative transitions and replacements. Continued
mishandling ofthe issue of the diversity and lack of
replacement of the University mascot has fostereda climate of mistrust of university administration. Issues of low graduate
student salaries, representation of Academic Professionals in governance, the
huge negative impact of deferred maintenance on campus facilities, and immature
assessment environment are other examples of lapses in administrative
leadership that have significant negative impact on the institution and create
significant challenges for its future development."
October 22, 2009
Protest Against Police Brutality
Friday October 2, 2009
Not Our Mascot Rally
Click here for the October 11, 2000 Radio Liberacion show on this topic
IRESIST COALITION RALLY TO DEMAND AN END TO THE USE OF “CHIEF ILLINIWEK”
The IResist Coalition, a social justice organization, will hold a march starting at the Alma Mater and a rally outside of the Assembly Hall at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in response to the Students for Chief Illiniwek’s “Next Dance.” The “chief” is not an honored symbol, but merely a caricature which mocks the very cultures and traditions it claims to champion. The “chief” does not represent the entire student body at UIUC. It does not unite the campus population, but continues to be a divisive symbol that creates a toxic environment for many students, faculty, staff, and community members. Recent research by Dr. Stephanie Fryberg (Tulalip) demonstrates the harm of mascot imagery... Read complete media advisory here, org download the pdf file here
American Indian Studies statement on the October 2 event at Assembly Hall
I am writing on behalf of my colleagues in the American Indian Studies Program to join those students, faculty, staff, and others who stand in opposition to the event planned for Assembly Hall Friday, October 2, and I ask others to join us, as well.
People in our program have stood against these invidious forms of racial stereotyping and masquerade for many years, and our program remains committed to moving forward in creating an inclusive campus environment for everyone. Those who continue to engage in these actions that demean American Indian people exacerbate a climate of intolerance, abuse, and hostility that increases with each move further into the past of a sports mascot tradition that the University retired over two years ago.
The real failure here, of course, is one of leadership, and Chancellor Richard Herman, President Joseph White, and the Board of Trustees have abdicated their responsibility to lead us away from this painful chapter in the University's history. Hopefully, new campus leaders will swiftly and decisively steer us in wiser directions.
Because of the failure of our appointed leaders, others must stand in the breach. To those we join in standing against what is happening, I want to express on behalf of our program my appreciation, admiration, and solidarity.
Director, American Indian Studies (UIUC)
Professor of American Indian Studies, English, and History pdf file available here
September 29, 2009
IResist Coalition - Open Letter to Chancellor Herman:
As you are aware, on October 2nd the 'Students for Chief Illiniwek' plan to hold the second of their annual tributes to the former mascot titled: 'The Next Dance.' As you are probably also aware, various student groups are planning to protest this event.
Last year’s protest was a highly charged situation fraught with tension and threats of violence. One of our camera persons was shoved, intimidating gestures and racial epithets were common in amongst a whole barrage of taunts and verbal abuse. At one point, a small group of protestors were forced off the sidewalk and into traffic by a very aggressive crowd; they ultimately had to retreat back to the larger group for their own safety.
Police at the scene however, were few and far between. Those who were there did little but stand around and joke with the fans coming out of the building. Why, you might ask, would anyone knowingly put themselves in a situation where such a possibility of violence exists? The answer is simple: We’re there, because you aren't.
On September 9, 2009, over 250 Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) members and their allies rallied on the UIUC Quad. They then marched to the faculty center where negotiations with administrators were to begin later that day. Click on the below clips for highlights...
Today, July 2, 2009, Mark Nepermann pleaded “not guilty” in court. He is charged with misdemeanor theft under $300, despite evidence given to State’s Attorney Julia Rietz of the greater artistic value of the two signs stolen from the “Beyond the Chief” exhibit at the University of Illinois.
Nepermann will be back in court July 31 at 9 a.m. for a pre-trial hearing.
The News-Gazette published an apology from Nepermann in its letters to the editor section. Yet Nepermann’s attorney Brian Silverman told him not to say anything when questioned by media after the hearing. For more about Silverman see an article I wrote a couple years ago:
Location: The Champaign County Courthouse is located at 101 E. Main St. Urbana, IL (Main and Vine St. in downtown Urbana)
The suspect in the theft of two signs from the outdoor art installation by Edgar Heap of Birds (Cheyenne-Arapaho) is due in court at the Champaign County Courthouse on Thursday, July 2, 2009 at 1:30 pm in Room F. Mark Nepermann, the 2009 UIUC graduate in Landscape Architecture will face charges of theft. The 22 year old from Batavia, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago) was video taped by police surveillance cameras removing two exhibit items directly in front of the Native American House.
This theft followed a series of 7 cases of vandalism upon the art installation dating from March 16 through June 9, 2009. State’s Attorney, Julia Rietz is only seeking misdemeanor charges because she is valuing both exhibit items at under $300.00. By estimating the items at such a low price, Nepermann will not face felony charges. These actions by Rietz make transparent how the court system within Champaign-Urbana privileges certain populations, while literally devaluing the livelihoods of historically marginalized groups.
The maneuvering by Rietz also places additional emphasis of why the Department of Justice needs to take on a bigger role in protecting the rights of American Indian populations at UIUC and addressing the hostile environment that continues to plague the campus and community.
Please make time in your schedule to witness the court proceedings of Mark Nepermann on Thursday July 2, 2009 at 1:30 pm in courtroom F. The Champaign County Courthouse is located at 101 E. Main St. Urbana, IL (Main and Vine St. in downtown Urbana). Please note, no cameras or cell phones are allowed inside the court building.
June 13, 2009
Hate Crimes at UIUC: Native American Art Targeted for the 7th Time
UIUC Chief of Police, Barbara R. O'Connor, J.D., informed the entire UIUC campus of the 7th targeted attack on the "Beyond the Chief" public art exhibit by HOCK E AYE VI EDGAR HEAP OF BIRDS (Cheyenne-Arapaho). This time, a white male college-aged student was caught on police surveillance cameras stealing two signs directly in front of the Native American House at the south and west sides. The police video indicate the suspect stole the exhibit items on Saturday June 13, 2009 between 2:13 a.m. and 2:28 a.m.
The mass email sent by O'Conner is copied below, along with pictures of the supsect. A video can be viewed in QuickTime format by clicking any of the images above, or by clicking here.
Anyone with information about this incident should call UIPD at 217-333-
1216. Information also can be shared anonymously through Crime stoppers
by calling 217-373-TIPS or online at: http://www.champaigncountycrimestoppers.com/
From: Campus Mass Mail by Barbara R. O'Connor, J.D.
The University of Illinois Police Department seeks the public's help in
identifying the suspect responsible for the theft of two artworks that
occurred on Saturday (June 13) between 2:13 a.m. and 2:28 a.m. at 1206 W.
Nevada St., Urbana.
The artworks, which resemble metal signs, are 18 inches by 36 inches and
are painted white with red block lettering. One says, INILLI GNITHGIF,
TODAY YOUR HOST IS PEORIA; the other says, INILLI GNITHGIF, TODAY YOUR
HOST IS HO-CHUNK. The Peoria sign was removed from its location directly
south of the Native American Studies Building. The Ho-Chunk sign was
removed near the west entrance of the building.
The suspect is a college-age white male who was wearing a dark T-shirt
and dark shorts at the time of the incident. The suspect was captured on
video; images can be viewed at http://www.dps.uiuc.edu/uipdhelp.html
Anyone with information about this incident should call UIPD at 217-333-
1216. Information also can be shared anonymously through Crime stoppers
by calling 217-373-TIPS or online at:
Barbara R. O'Connor, J.D.
Executive Director of Public Safety
Chief of Police
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
June 10, 2009
Hate Crimes at UIUC: Native American Art Vandalized for SIXTH Time
The Potawatomi sign was damaged sometime between June 9, 2009 and June 10, 2009. It was noticed damaged by Native American House staff at 10:00 am on June 10th. The Potawatomi sign sits directly in front of the American Indian Studies building at
May 20, 2009 Hate Crimes at UIUC: Native American Art Vandalized for FIFTH Time
On May 20, 2009, three items from the Beyond the Chief art exhibit, created by the renowned Cheyenne-Arapaho artist HOCK E AYE VI Edgar Heap of Birds, were vandalized for the fifth time. The attacks appear to have taken place in broad daylight sometime between the hours of 8:30 am and 1:30 pm on Wednesday, May 20th. The vandalized art include signs located in front of the Native American House, the Asian American Studies building, and adjacent to the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center. An officer arrived at 2:00 pm to complete a report but no statements were released by the Campus Police.
The damaged signs include those representing the Wea, Meskwaki, and Peoria tribes of illinois. These series of attacks now make it plain that those perpetrating this vandalism are specifically targeting the Native American community - thus falling into the definition of a "Hate Crime" as described by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).
"Hate crimes are intended to hurt and intimidate individuals, because they are perceived to be different with respect to their race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability. The purveyors of hate use physical violence, verbal threats of violence, vandalism, and in some cases weapons, explosives, and arson, to instill fear in their victims, leaving them vulnerable to subsequent attacks and feeling alienated, helpless, suspicious and fearful. These acts of hatred can leave lasting emotional impressions upon their victims as well as entire communities." (DOJ Website)
Students at the Native House on Wednesday, disturbed by these latest attacks, openly expressed frustration with the UIUC Chancellor, Richard Herman for his lack of action in addressing these series of incidents against the Native American community. "Yes, he sent out a mass email on this issue, but obviously that's not enough. The attacks continue and the campus climate remains unsafe for us and anyone who wants to see the campus move Beyond the Chief". The student making this statement asked to remain anonymous out of fear for her safety. Another student, who also preferred not to identify himself, attributed the attacks directly to the lack of action in ending Chief Illiniwek's presence on campus. "I refuse to attend any of the basketball or football games because the band still plays the Chief music during half-time. Yeah they retired the dance, but the music plays on. They're a cult and they are dangerous."
Although the University of Illinois' Board of Trustees voted to end the use of the Chief Illiniwek name, image and regalia, they also handed over all decision-making powers on the remaining issues to the UIUC Chancellor, Richard Herman. However, Herman refuses to end the use of the half-time music, known as the "Three-in-One", to which the mascot would perform his "crazy dance". Thus, since its retirement, the UIUC marching band continues to play the mascot's music while many in the crowd perform their homage to "The Chief".
Apparently, the latest pro-Chief ritual embraces a new tradition of destroying Native American art located on Nevada Street in Urbana.
Below are pictures of the damaged signs taken on May 20, 2009. Click on the image for larger versions.
Also, please consider signing the petition to pressure the Chancellor into taking action on this issue. Language on the petition is included below.
For additional information on the exhibit visit the Native American House Web site: http://www.nah.illinois.edu. Also, please read the article, "The Cost of an Exhibit: The Damage Done to the Native American House's 'Beyond the Chief' artwork" by Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu (Dine). This article by Miss Tsosie-Mahieu was written for the Public I (http://publici.ucimc.org/) after the FIRST act of vandalism upon the art work. The pdf file can be found by clicking here:
History of Vandalized exhibit
First Wave: March 16, 2009--The damage from the first instance of vandalism is noticed and reported to University police and University administrators. The Peoria sign is the only sign damaged. This sign is directly outside of 1206 Native American House.
Second Wave: April 6, 2009--In this wave of vandalism, three signs were damaged: Meskwaki, Potawatomi, and Sac. These are located outside of Asian American Studies and the Native American House(s).
Third Wave: May 4, 2009--Three more signs are damaged: Myaamia, Odawa, and Piankesaw outside of La Casa and African American Studies. Chancellor Herman sends a mass email regarding these attacks on May 5, 2009
Fourth Wave: May 8, 2009--The vandalism could have occurred any time between the evening of Friday, May 8 and 4:00pm on Saturday, May 9. The vandal wrote on the Potawatomi sign in red marker: "UH OH I VANDALISED (sic) THIS!" (Yes, they spelled "vandalized" with an "s" instead of a "z.")
Fifth Wave: May 20, 2009--Three more signs are damaged: Peoria, Meskwaki, and Wea. These signs are located outside of Bruce Nesbitt, Asian American Studies, and 1206 Native American House.
Saturday, February 7, 2009 Art and Resistance with Favianna Rodriquez ABOUT THE EVENT:Favianna Rodriquez, the award winning Bay Area printmaker (www.Favianna.com) spoke to how historically marginalized communities use multiple art forms to express voice and challenge domination within multiple contexts of resistance. Her presentation provided examples of media produced by African American, American Indian, Asian American, Chican@, Latin@, and LGBT communities. Intersections of Art and Resistance were artistically, historically and politically contextualized within this multimedia presentation.
November 15, 2008 "chief" illiniwek's "Next Dance" at UIUC's Assembly Hall
As an attempt to preserve their "tradition" for the coming years, pro-mascot supporters organized a return of "chief" illiniwek at the Assembly Hall at UIUC. However, those concerned about the return of the mascot overcame a hostile environment to protest against the event. The demographics of those entering to see what was described by some protesters as "the minstrel show" was estimated by a prominent UIUC administrator as being 90% white, while those protesting the event were from much more diverse backgrounds.
New Director of Native American House/American Indian Studies issues statement against the continued use of racist mascot imagery at UIUC
Students, faculty, and staff associated with Native American House and American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois are dismayed about plans by other members of our campus community to bring back the university's offensive former mascot, which the Board of Trustees retired in 2007.
The planned event represents a step backwards in the process of changing the climate of intolerance, insensitivity, and dehumanization that Native American people experience at Illinois. Those who have planned the upcoming event and those who participate in it are heading in the wrong direction by promoting a caricature, a stereotype, and an insult.
Events like the one planned for November 15 increase the hostile and abusive learning environment that the NCAA has cited in its sanctions against Illinois and other educational institutions that have persisted in using such images. Scores of other governmental and national organizations, including the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the American Psychological Association, and the National Congress of American Indians have made clear statements that any continued use and promotion of these images is wrong. We continue to urge people of conscience to join us in opposing such events and working toward eliminating the attitudes that lead to them.
Most importantly, we call on the leaders of our university who are responsible for creating a climate on campus that allows all students to pursue their educational goals to speak up for the rights of Native students as strongly as they have spoken up for the free expression rights of students and others who insist on creating a racially hostile environment. The Trustees, President, Chancellor, Provost, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, and many others can and should speak out against these actions that undermine the highest and most basic purposes of our university.
Robert Warrior, Ph.D.
Professor and Director
Native American House and American Indian Studies
BREAKING UPDATE: The jury returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY for the charges of criminal sexual abuse against Patrick Thompson. After an hour of closing statements by Attorney Kirchner, where he stepped the jury through the significant discrepancies between the stories of the accusers, the police report, and the witnesses, the jury deliberated for about 70 minutes before rendering a "not guilty" verdict. The more serious charges of home invasion were dropped by the judge two days ago in a directed verdict.
The Racist Mascot from Urbana-Champaign: Why You Should Still Boo Illinois
by Francis Boyle
Professor of Law
The self-styled "Fighting Illini" of the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign were on their way to the January 1, 2008 Rose Bowl with their racist and genocidal mascot and symbol Chief Illiniwak still in tow. Although the NCAA forced the University of Illiniwaks to prevent this Little Red Sambo from desecrating at half-times everything American Indians hold dear and treasure, nevertheless Chief Illiniwak still remains the officially designated "honored symbol" of the University of Illiniwaks at Urbana-Champaign. Just recently the University of Illiniwaks resurrected Chief Illiniwak for the Fall 2007 Homecoming in order to better milk their Alumni/ae as part of their newly launched Capital Campaign, thus definitively proving their craven racism for crass commercial purposes. In his "Year 501: The Conquest Continues" (1993) Noam Chomsky suggests an apt metaphor for such American Indian sports mascots and symbols that I will elaborate upon here in order to conform to our local and most peculiar rites on this campus:
December 21, 2007 Lacota group withdrawals from treaties with U.S.
from Jerry Reynolds of Indian Country Today
WASHINGTON - Territorial sovereignty is not vested in individuals or groups of individuals but in governments. Under international law, even governments aren't considered sovereign until recognized by another prior sovereign.
That may explain the assiduous attention paid on Dec. 19 by Lakota activist Russell Means to Mario Gustavo Guzman Saldana, the ambassador of Bolivia to the United States. Means led the Lakota Freedom Delegation to the Plymouth Congregational Church in Washington, where he declared a Lakota withdrawal from all treaties with the U.S. government. Saldana was the only diplomat on hand, and Means repeatedly took note of a skeleton media turnout.
He contended that since 1855, when Lakota nations granted a right-of-way to the U.S. government for roads through to Montana gold fields, Lakota territories have been illegally occupied and guiding treaties broken.
He stated from the start that the delegation does not represent contemporary tribal governments under U.S. law. Tribal governments organized under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 he termed ''those Vichy Indians, collaborators, beggars''; and non-IRA tribal governments he described as ''de facto colonial governments.''
They were all ''set up by the United States government to ensure our poverty, to ensure the theft of our land and resources,'' he added.
''No, we do not represent the beggars of Indian country. We do not represent even the diaspora of our nation. ... Our diaspora is massive, and has now resulted in two and three and four generations of what I would call lost Indians. Now the statistics of our deprivation make it mandatory that we have to become independent. And that independence, which covers a five-state area - Nebraska, South and North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, parts of those states ... we have come here to the United States of America's citadel [Washington] of empire, and withdrawn from that empire, re-establishing our independence. Understand we are not seceding.''
Means said the delegation will permit non-Indians to live within the traditional Lakota dominions, on condition they respect Lakota life and culture. He offered them the incentive of not paying taxes on condition that they renounce their U.S. citizenship.
Indian youth suicide rates prompted the announcement of a policy that has been evolving for more than 30 years, Means said. Another member of the delegation, Phyllis Young, confirmed that a ''document of continuing independence'' had been drafted among traditional Lakota chiefs in 1974. ''The suicide rate is very high in my homeland. And it's going on too long - going on 10 years that we are trying to keep the spirit alive for our children and our grandchildren. We have to seek alternative means economically. We have to seek alternative means so that our people can survive. We are the predecessor sovereign in this country. We have historic relationships, 33 treaties with the United States of America that they have not abided by, that they have not lived by. And they continue to take our land, our water, our children. ... Our people are still in our infancy to be creative and proactive according to our culture, according to our rules and our spirituality. When we, our grandparents and our parents have been stripped of that spirituality, and we continue to suffer, we have no choice. And we were mandated in 1974 to address this to the national community, to the United States of America.''
The State Department did not respond to the delegation's mandate, she said.
Means was not to be moved by any consideration of historical contingency. His reference to ''Vichy Indians'' likened some tribes to the collaborationist French state under Nazi occupation during World War II. What would Means say to Indians who might argue that over the course of 150 years, ''collaboration'' should be viewed as something else again, a genuine necessity of survival for instance?
''Goodbye. That's what I say to them.''
Nov 1, 2007 2:40 PM
LAND OF THE CHIEF/ HOME OF MODERN BLACKFACE MINSTRELSY: SAMSON RAPHAELSON’S STORIES AND OURS
by Professor David Roediger
U of I grad Samson Raphaelson is enjoying a nice little comeback lately, a quarter of a century after his death. Members of the marching band might recognize the name. A song that he coauthored in the 1920s has recently turned up and undergone a revival with, as the university’s Website reports, the band featuring it this season after points-after-touchdowns. You have heard “Fight Illini: The Stadium Song” if you go to games. Playing it is appropriate enough. After graduating during World War One, Raphaelson stayed on to play a leading role in the fund-raising for Memorial Stadium, write the first account of the stadium’s story, and orbit around the marching band as the figure of Chief Illiniwek took shape in the 20s to the strains of songs like “Fight Illini.”
Beyond the corn fields none of those accomplishments account for the extent to which Raphaelson’s name has recently resurfaced. He is discussed instead in connection with his role in bringing into being the foundational talking film, The Jazz Singer. The film, which also is the critical link between blackface minstrelsy and modern U.S. culture, turned eighty this year. It was recently the subject of a lavish retrospective at the American Cinematheque in Beverly Hills.
The story of the Raphaelson as the U of I football fan and that of Raphaelson as the sophisticated writer responsible for the play on which The Jazz Singer was based are in fact the same story. This reality greatly complicates the ways in which the university ought to think about its own racial past, about its students’ present flirtations with blackface as well as with other racial impersonations, and about its inability to let go of Chief Illiniwek. Continued...
October 25, 2007
OPEN LETTER to Chancellor Herman from Professor Antonia Darder
Dear Chancellor Herman,
I just finish reading the media advisory notice that states:
"As administrators planned this year's Homecoming parade, they created a policy that they interpreted was in keeping with the retirement directive. In reviewing that policy, Chancellor Richard Herman has determined that the interpretation was overly broad.
The University values free speech and free expression and considers Homecoming floats, decorations, costumes and related signage all representations of such personal expression."
My understanding, confirmed by staff, is that the revised policy will now permit Homecoming float makers to utilize the "Chief Illiniwek" logo or images, in the name of "free expression." This is an unfortunate decision on the part of the administration. The implications of this decision are significant, in ways that the administration fails to understand.
For example, taking this line of thinking further, if a float maker wants to use KKK imagery or a noose hanging from a tree on a homecoming float, is this now also acceptable under the auspices of "free expression?" Or if a float maker wants to use images of people copulating or nude participants on a float, would this also be accepted as the freedom of personal expression? And if not, why not? Certainly if public nudity is considered immoral or at least inappropriate, why not public racism? Continued...
October 14, 2007
Vernon Bellecourt remembered by Jay Rosenstein
The movement to rid the University of Illinois and the Champaign-Urbana community of the Chief Illiniwek mascot had many heroes. But perhaps none so important, yet locally not so well known, as Vernon Bellecourt. Vernon passed away on Sunday in Minneapolis of complications from pneumonia. He was 75.
Most people who have followed the Chief issue already know the story of Charlene Teters – how as a graduate student at U of I she started protesting alone, eventually building a movement that led to the Chief’s demise. But what most people don’t know is that when Charlene began and was suffering constant harassment by the community, she put out a desperate call for help. The first person to answer was Vernon Bellecourt.
Vernon hopped a train to Champaign-Urbana, and immediately added his physical presence to Charlene’s fight. And what a presence he had. Vernon had charisma by the score, taking over every room he stepped into. If Vernon was in the vicinity, he had your attention. It all began with his voice, a voice so powerful it always arrived about an hour before he did.
But there was much much more to Vernon. He was a clear-thinker, incredibly articulate, and a phenomenal public speaker. He could captivate and inspire audiences, and did it every chance he got. He had a sharp wit, and a great sense of humor too. Once I saw him on a television program about a song by country superstar Tim McGraw that used many American Indian stereotypes. McGraw defended himself by saying he was part Indian. Vernon’s on camera reply was priceless, “He says he’s part Indian, so I want to know what part. Certainly not his brain.” I almost fell off of my couch laughing. Continued...
JENA, Louisiana (CNN) -- Thousands of protesters clogged the tiny town of Jena, Louisiana, Thursday to show their indignation over what they consider unjust, unequal punishments meted out in two racially charged incidents.
On Wednesday, September 19, at noon the STOP Coalition successfully took over the student union. Approximately 60-80 people marched throughout the main floor of the union, going in and out of the building several times. STOP protesters marched past the ice cream corner, the Credit Union, and past the Espresso Royal Café counter as employees looked on in wonder. Some students joined in,andothers stopped to take photos. Flyers were passed out with STOP's demands and speeches were given through bullhorns. STOP organizers Treva Ellison, John Gergeley, and Paty Garcia led chants
of "Whose Union? Our Union!" ....
Thanks in part to the public pressure placed on the Graduate College and the College of Medicine, Ray Morales has been assigned a faculty advisor - thus allowing Ray to remain in the Ph.D. / MD program at UIUC. Thanks everyone for your support.
In another landmark victory for student campaigns against Coca-Cola, the company has been kicked out of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. U of I is the third university this summer -- following Smith College in the U.S. and the Banaras Hindu University in India -- to have terminated its beverage contract with Coca-Cola. Coalition Against Coke Contracts (CACC), the group that led the campaign at UIUC, dedicates this victory to the indomitable fighting spirit of communities ravaged by Coke -- from Colombia to India.
STOP Coalition Press Conference acknowledging the receipt of the Chancellor Herman's response to the STOP Coalition demands issues during Racism, Power and Privilege forum that took place on February 1, 2007
Within two weeks of the Racism, Power and Privilege at UIUC forum, the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the University of Illinois - Lawrence Eppley, announced the mascot's last dance will be Wednesday, February 21, 2007. While this falls within the timeline given by Students Transforming Oppression and Privilege (STOP) for an administrative response to their demands, STOP coalition members question the extent to which the mascot iconography will cease to be commodified and displayed at UIUC and the CU community. Is cancelling the dance enough to lessen the hostile and abusive campus environment?
Please listen and watch the following interviews (provided by WEFT's Radio Liberacion) with Chairman Eppley - conducted on February 16, 2007.
Click on the image below to watch the QuickTime version of the interviews or listen to the MP3 files.
RESOLUTION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE OGLALA SIOUX TRIBE DEMANDING RETURN OF LAKOTA REGALIA USED IN PERFORMANCE OF “CHIEF ILLINIWEK,” AND IN SUPPORT OF REQUEST BY PEORIA TRIBE OF OKLAHOMA THAT THE USE OF THE MASCOT CEASE.
On January 17, 2007, the Executive Committee of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Nation submitted a resolution to the University of Illinois President and Board of Trustees and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor demanding the return of the Lakota regalia used in the portrayal of the school’s mascot to the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
The official resolution refers to the “theatrics” and “antics” of “chief illiniwek” and notes that the “Oglala Lakota regalia is being misused to represent ‘Chief Illiniwek’” and needs to be returned to the rightful owners of the tribe. The resolution further states that “Chief Illiniwek” not only “perpetuates a degrading racial stereotype,” but violates the integrity of traditional Illinois tribes including the “Kaskaskia, Peroria, Piankeshuw, and Wea nations.”
Moreover, the Resolution by the Oglala Sioux supports the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma “in its request that the University of Illinois recognize the demeaning nature of the characterization of ‘Chief Illiniwek’ and cease use of this mascot.” In 2000, the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma passed a resolution “Request to University of Illinois to Cease Use of Chief llliniwek as Mascot.”
Given the increasing concerns regarding the experiences of racism and oppression facing American Indian nations and communities, the faculty of American Indian Studies (AIS) and the staff at the Native American House (NAH) at the University of Illinois welcome the Resolution of the Executive Committee of the Oglala Sioux Tribe that disapproves of the use of the Lakota Regalia in “Chief Illiniwek” performances and calls for cessation of the mascot.
Further, AIS/NAH faculty and staff call upon the Board of Trustees, President White, and UIUC administration to respond to this resolution with due respect and action. There can be no misreading of the Oglala Sioux Resolution—those to whom the Lakota regalia belongs and whom the Board of Trustees claims to be honoring have clearly requested that the performance and charade of “chief illiniwek” end.
Click here for a pdf copy of the Resolution of the Executive Committee of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
Ugly Turn in Mascot Dispute
Chief Illiniwek, the mascot at the University of Illinois, has been controversial for many years and it seems like his days spent rallying sports fans may be numbered. Despite attempts by campus officials to keep the Chief Illiniwek around, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has waded into the matter on Native American mascots, forcing colleges to make changes by 2008 or face penalties.
But as the mascot’s demise may be imminent, the controversy has gotten uglier, and Native Americans on the Urbana-Champaign campus are demanding protection after discovering threats and racist jibes against them on a Facebook group.
“With all the volatile discussion about the mascot, while we do want people to express their views, we have to take this seriously,” said Wanda S. Pillow, director of the Native American House, whose members first noticed the page last Friday. From dates on the page, it appears to have been posted since November. Pillow said that several Native American faculty members contacted Facebook and the administration over the weekend about the threats. On Tuesday, after Pillow and others circulated an e-mail to faculty members demanding an investigation, the university announced that it would conduct one.
Inside Higher Ed obtained a copy of the page which has been removed from Facebook. The page carries three postings, apparently by two students at the university. Neither student responded to an e-mail request for an interview.
With over 110 members, the group is titled “If They Get Rid of the Chief I’m Becoming a Racist.” One posting reads, “[W]hat they don’t realize is that there was never a racist problem before..but now I hate redskins and hope all those drunk casino owning bums die.”
Another post states that one of the leaders of the movement to remove Chief Illiniwek is of Sioux descent. “I say we throw a tomohawk [sic] into her face.”
Pillow confirmed that a female student who has been outspoken against Chief Illiniwek is of Sioux descent. “From the description, it’s pretty obvious who this person is, and she does not want to be identified,” Pillow said. She added that faculty members have contacted William Riley, dean of students and associate vice chancellor for student affairs.
Riley did not respond to numerous phone calls for comment. Tuesday night, Chancellor Richard Herman released a statement: “I do not know the motives of the students who posted the threats, but I do know that their words are dangerous and racist. The threats have been forwarded to the Office of Student Conflict Resolution for investigation and action.”
Stephen Kaufman, emeritus professor of cell and developmental biology, said that he found the Facebook page offensive, especially because it targeted a specific student who happens to be a descendant of Sitting Bull. “We have an atmosphere of intimidation on this campus,” he said.
Kaufman became the target of campus protest last fall when a student started an online petition rallying students to get him to resign for sending letters to high school athletes that the university was seeking to recruit. The petition against Kaufman received over 3,300 signatures.
In the letters, Kaufman and other professors apprised the recruits of the ongoing controversy with Chief Illiniwek. “[W]e ask you to take this into consideration as you make up your mind where you will pursue your college goals,” stated the letter.
Robin Kaler, associate for public affairs, said that the Board of Trustees makes decisions about the mascot.
They called it a"congressional field hearing" to examine Tim Johnson's and disgraced House Speaker Dennis Hastert's “Protection of University Governance Act of 2006” (HR 5289). It ended up being a stacked Republican attempt to shame the NCAA for pushing us closer to ending the use of a racist mascot at UIUC.
However, Bernard Franklin of the NCAA held his ground and received support from Professor Steven Kaufman and Democratic congressman, Danny K Davis (IL). Not one American Indian was present as an official witness despite ample representation available at UIUC's Native American House and American Indian Studies program. (See the below interview of Professor Debbie Reese for more on this subject).
The hearing was heavily policed and no one was allowed entrance who openly wore t-shirts with anti-racism messages. Police at the entrance made people remove their shirts or turn them inside-out - while crowd members with mascot emblems and "chief" written on their shirts passed right through with open arms.
Anti-Oppression Student Group Voice Opposition to Tim Johnson’s Proposed Legislation
There will be a congressional field hearing on Friday, December 15th, 10:30 A.M at Parkland College room D-244 to examine the “Protection of University Governance Act of 2006” (HR 5289). The legislation, introduced by Republican Representative Tim Johnson and disgraced former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, limits the NCAA’s ability to impose sanctions on member institutions by reason of a team name, symbol, emblem or mascot.
Members of the “Students Transforming Oppression and Privilege” (STOP) Coalition connects the current hostile UIUC campus climate with the Board of Trustees’ incompetence to address the mascot issue. STOP supports the NCAA decision against “Hostile and Abusive” mascots and refutes the popularity of the “chief” at UIUC, particularly as it relates to students of color. Please consider attending the Parkland College congressional field hearing this Friday December 15th at 10:30 room D244 to show your opposition to institutional racism at UIUC and within the local community.
December 12, 2006
Saying Goodbye to My “Fargo” Accent
by Robert Jensen
... I was at the university to participate in a panel on racism and white privilege, a subject about which I’ve written a book, making me an alleged expert. In my introductory remarks I made reference to my upbringing in North Dakota and the accent made famous by the movie, using it for a bit of comic relief in a discussion of a difficult subject. Click here for the full story
On October 5, 2006, the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity and Delta Delta Delta sorority held a social activity referred to as an exchange. At this event, called "Fiesta," students dressed in racially overt, stereotypical attire that portrayed Mexican people in derogatory ways. Students dressed as farm workers and pregnant women.
In light of this event, students, faculty, staff, and community members held a rally/protest on October 31st, 2006 to demonstrate their outrage at the act of intolerance by Zeta Beta Tau and Delta Delta Delta, and the campus administrations insufficient response to it.
The exchange held by Zeta Beta Tau and Delta Delta Delta is a consequence of the University's ongoing refusal to address issues related to race and racism. By refusing to take decisive action on these issues, including Chief Illiniwek, the University fosters a climate in which students deem it acceptable to play Indian, play Mexican, and/or play Black.
The rally was held outside the Illini Union from noon to 1:00pm, drawing a crowd of at least a couple hundred people. Following the rally there was a protest from the Illini Union, work its way over to the Delta Delta Delta house, the Zeta Beta Tau house and conclude at Swanlund Administration Building.
As a result of the public outcry and outrage of the student body, late last night Chancellor Herman released a letter to all students, faculty and staff, condemning the social and racist and intolerant behavior. Despite his very apologetic letter condemning these actions, he made no reference to the University’s own racist actions with the Chief Illiniwek mascot. Visit: http://www.iresist.org/protest for videos and pictures
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
The time is long overdo for Chief Illiniwek to retire
By George Benge
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — It is homecoming day at the University of Illinois. Pristine rays of sunshine beam down from a cloudless October sky. The smoky aroma of tailgate barbecue permeates the air.
Undergrads are tossing footballs, alums are swapping memories and boys with faces painted orange and blue are getting stoked for the game.
For generations, University of Illinois students, alumni, officials, families and fans have returned on homecoming to cheer for the team and to celebrate with Chief Illiniwek, mascot of the school’s athletic teams since 1926.
I came to this leafy, quintessentially Midwestern campus on homecoming weekend to see the Illiniwek spectacle for myself.
During my time here, I also saw that:
* After eight decades of institutionalized cultural insensitivity, the timing is right for the university to officially terminate the demeaning fantasy of Chief Illiniwek and the equally demeaning nickname “Fighting Illini.”
* The university dogma that has perpetuated Chief Illiniwek has no basis in coherent reality.
* A climate of fear and intimidation permeates the lives of Native American administrators, faculty members and students who exercise their First Amendment freedom to speak out against Chief Illiniwek.
* Sanctions imposed on the university by the National Collegiate Athletic Association because of Chief Illiniwek have created hope that the chief’s retirement might come soon.
* The Illiniwek culture is so deeply ingrained — from cradle to grave — that loyalists hope to somehow keep the chief alive even after the university’s board of trustees delivers the inevitable coup de grace.
The shadow of Illiniwek is reflected in diverse voices all across campus.
Christina Rodriguez, 21, a senior from Chicago, says: “The chief is a symbol of divisiveness against Native Americans. I find it an offensive stereotype and a blatant misrepresentation.”
Judith Estrada, 24, a graduate student and Chicana from Los Angeles, gives me a campus tour, pointing out Antonio’s Pizza, where the walls are festooned with images of Chief Illiniwek.
“We don’t go there anymore,” Estrada said. “I don’t want to see the chief while I’m eating.”
Inside Follett’s bookstore and Gameday Sports, garish arrays of “chief” merchandise include Illiniwek blankets, caps, sofa decorations, shirts, pennants, car ornaments, baby outfits, wristbands, videos, briefcases, Christmas stockings, hair bows and teddy bears.
Nyle Bolliger, of Homer, Ill., a director of software programming at the university and a supporter of the chief, said that “because of the NCAA sanctions, at the end of the year I think he’ll be retired ... Most people are resigned to the fact that he’ll be going.”
That would be wonderful news to Wanda S. Pillow, director of Native American House and the American Indian Studies Program at Illinois. Pillow has lobbied top university officials to retire Chief Illiniwek “in image, logo and name.”
Once, Pillow discovered that the lug nuts had been removed from the wheels of her car. Now, before she starts her car, Pillow says: “I look. I walk around the car and look for anything out of the ordinary ... There is something tangible (going on) here on campus that we can feel.”
Debbie Reese, a Nambe Pueblo, is an assistant professor of Indian studies who also has implored trustees, the NCAA and U.S. Sen. Barak Obama to retire Chief Illiniwek.
“My dad does not want me working here,” Reese said.
Jay Rosenstein is an associate professor of journalism and a TV documentary producer whose landmark work, “In Whose Honor? American Indian Mascots in Sports,” focused national attention on Chief Illiniwek in 1997.
“The climate here has changed in many ways, and ‘In Whose Honor’ had something to do with that,” Rosenstein said. “Before, protests did not even register. Now it is accepted that there is another side to this issue. Now it has teeth.”
And what of Chief Illiniwek himself?
Frankly, the chief’s halftime act was a colossal letdown.
A barefoot little Caucasian guy, Dan Maloney, of Galesburg Ill., aka, Chief Illiniwek, strutted, pirouetted and pranced in faux Indian buckskins, feathers and face paint while the Marching Illini band played three traditional Illinois songs.
The orange-clad Illiniwek faithful rose, swaying left and right, singing the school songs and chanting “Chieeeeef, Chieeeeef.”
After all the hype — some people had even described the chief’s performance as “erotic” — I found that what the P.A. announcer described as “the most exciting four minutes in college athletics” was a sad and underwhelming non-event.
The chief struck me as a pathetic, offensive anachronism badly out of step at a time when a cultural renaissance is occurring among real Native Americans outside the Urbana-Champaign city limits.
One hopes — prays — that this was the chief’s final homecoming dance.
George Benge, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, writes a monthly commentary on diversity issues for Gannett News Service. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 28, 2006
Letter from visiting summer student:
“My name is Johnathan Gibbs. I am a participant in the Summer Research Opportunities Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I am originally from San Diego, California, but have been living in Mississippi for the last 7 years. Last night, while I was walking through the “quad” behind the student union of UIUC, I was attacked by four young Caucasian men. I didn’t know, them. I had never seen them before. They walked easily and sure of themselves, and ran fast after the assault which leads me to believe that they were not drunk. I had a wallet with 18 dollars and I was carrying an iPod nano in one hand and a cell phone in the other, but they did not take any of these items, which leads me to believe that they didn’t want to rob me. What they did do was approach me, stare at my face for a long time, and attack me without saying a word. What I am led to believe is that I was the victim of a hate crime.
This is outrageous to me. It is the year 2006 and incidents like this are still occurring. What disturbs me more is that I have been living in Mississippi for seven years and this has never happened to anyone that I even know. It happened at the University of Illinois, a very prestigious institution of higher learning.
According to the police, it can not absolutely be decided that this was a hate crime, however. I am fine with this, but now I would like to know what the University is going to do about this incident. There, apparently, have been a number of these kinds of crimes going on at this campus. Two days prior to my attack, a middle eastern man was found in the street unconscious. It was later discovered that someone had struck him in the back of the head with a bottle. Besides both of these stories, a number of UIUC students have told me that this kind of thing happens all of the time. Why is no one saying or doing anything about it? A fellow research in my program is doing her research on the history or Champaign-Urbana and has found that there is a lot of cover up when it comes to this subject matter. I want to expose it.
There were no cameras in the area in which I was attacked, and that is just a shame. I have emailed the dean of student affairs here at the University, and I plan on involving as much of the news media in my efforts. I just thought that you all would like to know about this.
Please forward this to as many people as you can. Don’t make it look like a forward, though. People might not open it. I want to expose this story. It cannot just disappear like so many others.”
The Native American House and American Indian Studies program at UIUC has reviewed the March 7, 2006 memo from Bernard W. Franklin, NCAA Vice President for Governance and Membership to the NCAA Executive Committee, with the subject line “Staff Committee Response to the University of Illinois, Champaign, Appeal.” We find the material contained in the memo to be an excellent and substantive refutation of the University of Illinois BOT's appeal to the NCAA. Again, we commend the NCAA for its commitment to “promote an atmosphere of respect for and sensitivity to the dignity of every person” and its actions based upon that commitment.
Click here for PDF file to NCAA Executive Committee letter dated March 7, 2006
Click here for PDF file to UIUC Board of Trustees' rebuttal letter dated March 27, 2006
November 11 , 2005 NCAA denies UIUC's appeal to Mascot Ruling
"The staff review committee found that over the last decade, the volume and frequency of contentiousness around Chief Illiniwek has increased. Those who oppose continued use of Chief Illiniwek have grown in number and have found national platforms for their argument that the broad range of Native Americans perceives the Chief’s ‘fancy dance’ a demeaning interpretation of their own customs and traditions. Media accounts, letters and e-mail continue to document instances of hostile behavior toward those who oppose the use of Chief Illiniwek.
"Although not included in the university's review request, the issue of the logomark used by some athletics teams that depicts a Native American in feathered headdress adds to the use of Native American imagery that the broadest range of indigenous tribes and peoples find offensive and insulting. As the staff review committee has noted in previous writings, by continuing to use Native American nicknames, mascots and imagery, institutions assume responsibility over an environment which they cannot fully control. Fans, opponents and others can and will exhibit behaviors that indeed are hostile or abusive to Native Americans. Despite good intentions and best efforts, the stereotyping of Native Americans into narrow images is an undeniable consequence of choosing such names and symbols
October 17, 2005University of Illinois Appeals NCAA Mascot Ruling
On Friday, October 14, the University of Illinois Board of Trustees (BOT) announced its appeal of the NCAA ban on “Chief Illiniwek” and the term “Fighting Illini,” both of which the NCAA has deemed to be examples of “hostile and abusive” Native American imagery. In his letter to the NCAA, BOT Chairman Lawrence C. Eppley bases the appeal upon the following four arguments—all of which are seriously flawed: 1) Eppley claims that the NCAA ban violates the University’s autonomy, 2) that the term “Fighting Illini” does not refer to Native Americans, 3) that the “Chief” is a respectful and honorable tradition of the university, and 4) that NCAA followed an illegitimate process in instituting the ban.
Although Eppley claims that the NCAA policy interferes with the University’s ability to resolve the “Chief Illiniwek” controversy, the BOT has repeatedly demonstrated its inability to make any progress on the issue. In their 2004 report on the “Chief,” the North Central Association, the organization with accredits the U of I, wrote, “The real issue here is a troubling failure of enlightened leadership and shared governance by the board of a major world-class research university.” Since the NCA report, the BOT has passed some resolutions on the “Chief,” including their oft-cited “consensus conclusion,” but all of their resolutions amount to nothing more than stalling tactics designed to delay concrete progress on the issue.
Given this context, Eppley’s accusation that the NCAA has violated the University’s ability to resolve the “Chief” controversy autonomously seems ridiculous. Moreover, the NCAA should be able to control the environment of its events. As NCAA President Myles Brand wrote in the USA Today on Aug. 10, 2005, “The NCAA has no authority to force its member institutions to change their mascots or nicknames. Even so the NCAA can and has determined that within the environment of NCAA national championships, behaviors that inappropriately characterize a group of people will not be welcomed.”
Secondly, Eppley’s attempt to dissociate the term “Fighting Illini” from Native American imagery is misleading. He claims that “Illini” refers to the state’s name and that “fighting” refers to the WWI veterans to whom Memorial Stadium was dedicated in 1924. However, the terms “Illini” and “fighting” were strongly associated with Native Americans even before the “Chief” was created in 1926. For example, the 1921 Illio uses the following words in association with the U of I football team: “Illini tribesmen,” “old hunting ground,” “war whoops,” “stout hearted young braves,” and “massacre.” Similarly, the 1923 Illio refers to Coach Zuppke’s “fighting Illini” as “eleven Orange and Blue Indians.”
Although Eppley cites a 1995 statement by the U.S. Dept. of Education Office of Civil Rights as evidence that the “Chief” is an honorable representation, the statement did not vindicate the U of I’s use of the “Chief” but rather pointed out that not enough evidence had been gathered to prove that the “Chief” violated civil rights in that instance. Meanwhile, the more recent (2001) statement of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights urged non-Native schools to cease use of Native American imagery because such offensive stereotypes “block genuine understanding of contemporary Native people as fellow Americans.”
Because of the flaws in Chairman Eppley’s baseless appeal, the PRC calls upon the NCAA to stand by its decision that the “Chief” and “Fighting Illini” are examples of “hostile and abusive” Native American imagery. Furthermore, the PRC calls on the Board of Trustees to eliminate “Fighting Illini” and the “Chief”—name, dance, and logo—immediately. The time is long overdue.
October 11, 2005
Oklahoma AIM leader dies. Michael Haney fought against the use of mascots. Reported by Sam Lewin
A longtime Indian activist from Oklahoma has passed away. Michael Stephen Haney, Seminole/Lakota, died in a Tulsa hospital on Oct. 8 following a lengthy illness. He was active in the American Indian Movement, and joined the organization when they occupied Alcatraz Island in 1969. The leader of the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports & Media, Haney remained a firebrand and continued to speak out on other Indian issues, including the use of Native American mascots, until his death.
“What I am saying is that after you have run the people that inhabited, the people that welcomed your ancestors to Illinois, teach you how to exist, fed you, the first welfare line in Illinois was your ancestors. We fed you. We offered you our resources. And in return you named Chief Illiniwek after us. In return, after you hunted the Mesquaki, Chief Blackhawk, after you hunted the Sauk and Fox people to their death like animals, hunted them, killed man, woman and children, then you named ice hockey teams after them and you think we should be satisfied,” Haney said in opposing the University of Illinois’ “Chief Illiniwek” mascot. “I wonder why they call them outside agitators. I am from Oklahoma, but I wouldn't be from Oklahoma if your ancestors hadn't run my people out of Illinois." Click here for the full story
October 6, 2005Not in Our Honor Rally – October 16, 2005 Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City Missouri
Indigenous Organizations and other concerned groups will take part in a peaceful rally in front of Arrowhead Stadium, when the Kansas City Chiefs play the Washington Redskins. We are seeking to educate the general public about the misrepresentation of these racialized mascot images. America has fashioned itself internationally to be a champion of human rights, yet at home overtly supports racist American Indian imagery in the sports world. Indian mascots serve to pass down racial stereotypes of Native peoples from generation to generation. Thankfully, hundreds of public and private entities have made conscious decisions to remove harmful racial imagery. As America has matured, it has retired imagery like Little Black Sambo, the Frito Bandito, and black minstrel shows. People would not honor an African-American by calling them the N-word, dressing up in black face and throwing a spear, so why is it deemed appropriate to exploit Native Americans in the same fashion? Awareness of the name behind the mascot is vital in helping to educate the public about this type of open racism. Click here for the pdf file
September 29, 2005NCAA denies UND's appeal over Fighting Sioux nickname, logo By Steve Wieberg, USA TODAY
The NCAA denied the University of North Dakota appeal to remove restrictions on the school's "Fighting Sioux" nickname and mascot. After granting three previous appeals — Florida State, Utah, Central Michigan — the NCAA stood firm on its original ruling that North Dakota's sports nickname and related imagery create a "hostile or abusive environment." Critical, said Bernard Franklin, an association vice president, was opposition from two of the three local Sioux tribes and a resolution by the board of directors of the United Tribes of North Dakota in support of the NCAA restrictions. Click here for the the full story
September 15, 2005 Kansas University Student Senate Passes Mascot Resolution
The KU Student Senate unanimously passed a resolution to ask the University not to schedule athletic events with schools that have mascots the NCAA deems offensive. Click here for link to story
September 8, 2005 Trustees add guideline for resolving Illiniwek debate
The new guideline, approved without debate, joins seven others adopted in July that are intended to help the university reach what it calls a "consensus conclusion" to the years-old debate over the school's American Indian imagery. The new guideline says the board should "recognize the university's goals of having high integrity athletic programs, winning teams and athletes who are successful students and who have the opportunity to compete at the highest levels." It comes after an Aug. 5 decision by the NCAA's executive committee to bar schools that use "hostile" and "abusive" American Indian imagery, including Chief Illiniwek, from hosting postseason events. Thursday's meeting was the board's first since the NCAA's ruling and opponents told the trustees to retire the Chief and the "Fighting Illini" nickname immediately. Wanda Pillow, the director of the Urbana campus' Native American Studies program, also scolded the trustees for failing to talk to anyone in her program or visit the Native American House on campus for input. "The continued use of Chief Illiniwek and Fighting Illini severely compromises the academic integrity of NAS (Native American Studies)," she said. "I know the excellent American Indian studies faculty we have recruited here will not stay" if the Chief isn't retired. Click here for the link to the article, Click here for the pdf file
September 5, 2005 Open Letter from Professor Debbie Reese on the impact of UIUC's mascot. "...caught in the midst and furor of this mess will be Native students, staff, and faculty, whose cultures will still be the stuff of sports play. Instead of relying on Sports Illustrated or the Annenberg Center, I urge you to consider the statements issued by national, regional, and local Native American political, social, educational, and professional organizations that have called for an end to the use of Native imagery in sports programs." Click here for the link to the article, Click here for the pdf file
August 25, 2005 APA Resolution Recommending the Immediate Retirement of American Indian Mascots, Symbols, Images, and Personalities by Schools, Colleges, Universities, Athletic Teams, and Organizations "WHEREAS the American Psychological Association has recognized that racism and racial discrimination are attitudes and behavior that are learned and that threaten human development (American Psychological Association, June 2001)..." Click here for the link to the resolution, Click here for the pdf file
August 10, 2005 USA Today – Editorial " NCAA takes high road with ban of offensive mascots" By Myles Brand, NCAA president
- "... many individuals and tribes view such uses as disrespectful toward their customs and culture. They see a level of contempt in the same way African Americans saw black-face minstrel shows decades ago as contempt for their race. We would not think of allowing nicknames or mascots that disrespect African Americans. Surely, American Indians should be accorded the same treatment.... Imitation, it is said, is the highest form of flattery. But when it is viewed in the eyes of those being portrayed as hostile and abusive — no matter how well-intended — imitation becomes the lowest form of disrespect and insult." Click here for link to the article, Click here for the pdf file.
August 9, 2005 "Some colleges have lot to learn about racism" By Jon Saraceno USA Today "Haven't Native Americans, one of the most brutalized and exploited groups to inhabit our soil, had enough of Caucasian tormentors? We took their land, culture and hope. Apparently, we must also trivialize their sacred rituals and possess their souls... It is 2005, isn't it? Universities like Florida State, Illinois and Utah act as if it's 1965. Welcome to Tallahassee, Urbana-Champaign and Salt Lake City — and at least 15 other college campuses — where the phrase "higher education" does not apply. At least when it comes to racist imagery in the form of nicknames and mascots, so says the NCAA." Click here for link to the article, Click here for the pdf file.
August 5, 2005 NCAA Executive Committee list UIUC's mascot as "hostile and abusive". ".. [As a national association, we believe that mascots, nicknames or images deemed hostile or abusive in terms of race, ethnicity or national origin should not be visible at the championship events that we control" said Walter Harrison, chair of the Executive Committee and president at the University of Hartford. The policy prohibiting colleges or universities with hostile or abusive mascots, nicknames or imagery from hosting any NCAA championship competitions takes effect February 1, 2006. Click here for link to the article, Click here for the pdf file.
April 7, 2005 "We" are two professors and an undergraduate. We are tribally enrolled American Indians who know our people, our history and our traditions. There is a difference between American Indians and the romantic noble savage stereotype that manifests in the gymnastics and acrobatic antics of the high-kicking, dancing Chief Illiniwek and in the Fighting Illini logo and name. Our position is more than simply anti-Chief; it is pro-American Indian people. We understand that some people neither desire nor are obligated to understand our position, and so our voices often are rejected or unheard as supporters of the Chief and the media tend to distort our message, twist our logic or dismiss us all together. Click here for link to article, Click here for pdf file
May 5, 2005 The Native American House (NAH) Denounces UIUC’s Report to the “NCAA Institutional Self Evaluation Examining the Use of American Indian Mascots, Nicknames and Logos” - "Read as a whole, UIUC’s report demonstrates no attempt of “self examination” and no one in the NAH community was contacted to discuss the content of the evaluation... NAH is deeply disappointed that new university administration continues to demonstrate no leadership around this issue by adopting a pose of seeming neutrality while making comments and participating in activities that endorse the presence of “chief illiniwek,” a racist symbol that undermines the University’s goals as an educational institution and mis-educates the campus and community." Click here for link, Click here for pdf file
April 28, 2005
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign NCAA Institutional Self-Evaluation. The "Self-report" - conducted without consulting any American Indian groups on campus, starts off by stating, "
While the University does not have a mascot... ". This response symbolizes the blatant disrepect the UIUC has toward incorporating American-Indian voices on campus and its lack of desire to engage in a real "consensus conclusion" on this issue. Click here for pdf file.
April 27, 2005 B. Joe White's cover letter to NCAA Self-Evaluation. Here it is, the new UIUC's president's first official stance on the mascot issue. Notice how no American Indian campus organizations where consulted in his formulation of this letter or the self-evaluation. Click here for the pdf file
April 4, 2005 The "Chief" is dead... "For three years I have listened to and watched Illini athletics, uncaring and callous students at this university, and the racists in the community denigrate American Indians," said Drown. "Racism must stop here. If the Board of Trustees will not retire THE CHIEF, we won't play." Click here for link to article, Click here for pdf file
March 31, 2005 Top-seeded Illinois is preparing to take on Louisville in the Final Four, but the Illini will take the court in St. Louis Saturday without their mascot. "Chief Illiniwek," a white student in buckskins, feathery headdress and makeup has been less visible at the school's athletic events during the past five years. Click here for link to article, Click here for pdf file
March 31, 2005 American-Indian mascot remains benched for Final Four. "Chief Illiniwek", an Anglo student in Native American garb who performs a five-minute halftime show at Illinois home games, has not been at the NCAA tournament and will be absent from the Final Four. Click here for link to article, Click here for pdf file
March 30 , 2005 "Illiniwek" will sit out Final Four - Three of the four teams will take their mascots to St. Louis for the final four on April 2, 2005. The lone exception is UIUC's "Chief Illiniwek". Click here for link to article, Click here for pdf file
March 30, 2005 Three cheers for Illinois not bringing its outdated, racist mascot to the Final Four. Chief Illiniwek, the native American "symbol" of the University of Illinois, won't be attending the Final Four. Let's hear a cheer for that. Click here for link to article, Click here for the pdf file.
March 26, 2005 Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich nominated David V. Dorris for University of Illinois Board of Trustees position. By chance, Dorris also gave the Blagojevich campaign more than $83,000 for past campaigns. With regard to the "Chief" mascot, Dorris says "It's simply an issue that I've never seen a convincing argument by either side". When asked if retention of the mascot was harming "minorities" or harming the University of Illinois Dorris says that if it is, "it should be eliminated", but he had not seen "any convincing evidence" either for or against keeping it. Click here for link to article.
March 23, 2005 The Illini should put away their 'chief' - Op-Ed by George Benge - The "Chief" mascot "is also among the most demeaning of the sports mascots, symbols and nicknames whose existence is an affront to all Native Americans. Others of Illiniwek's ilk include the Washington Redskins, Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians and the Tomahawk-chopping fans of the Florida State Seminoles and Atlanta Braves. Click here for link to op-ed piece, click here for pdf file
March 17, 2005 Dr. Joseph Gone held a forum at the UIUC Law School Auditorium. The subject: "Should He Stay or Should He Go? Retiring The Chief." Dr. Gone's article on the "Chief" was made available to those in attendance prior to the forum. This event, sponsored by the SBA 1L Representatives and co-sponsored by the Native American Law Students Association (NALSA), was an informative lecture and discussion about the university's controversial mascot, "Chief Illiniwek". Reflecting upon both the historical and contemporary implications of university sponsorship of the "Chief", Dr. Joseph Gone (Gros Ventre), a graduate of the doctoral program in clinical psychology at UIUC and currently Assistant Professor of Psychology and American Culture at the University of Michigan, recounted his first-hand experience in the collective efforts of local Native American activists to retire the mascot. Click here for link to online article, Click here for the pdf file.
March 15 , 2005 The Illinois Native American Bar Association filed a law suit in the Cook Country Circuit Court against the University of Illinois Board of Trustees saying the "Chief" mascot perpetuates a racial stereotype.
February 24, 2005 Halftime resembles cult ritual "...the Assembly Hall halftime show -- it wasn't really a show so much as a cult ritual -- freaked me out pretty thoroughly." click here for link to article, here for pdf
December 8, 2004 University of Oregon protests "Chief" mascot. "Twenty-five or 50 years from now, people will be appalled that we did at one time have these caricatures," Renard Strickland, a University of Oregon law professor, and author of "Tonto's Revenge pdf_file
November 11, 2004 Protesters rally to end "Chief" click here
October 1, 2004 Nine Indians out of 10 Love Redskins as an Identity Label - Todd Appleman pdf file
September 7, 2004 Illinois' leaders must step up, get rid of Chief - Sun-Times article pdf file
August 5, 2004 - The Higher Learning Commission - North Central Association of Colleges and Schools cites the Board of Trustees negligence in the "Chief" mascot issue. " The real issue here is a troubling failure of enlightened leadership and shared governance by the board of a major world-class research university." Click here for full report.
August 25, 2004
North Central Association “focused visit” report received
URBANA--The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign today received the report of a three-member committee of the North Central Association (NCA) on its "focused visit" to the campus last April regarding the issue of Chief Illiniwek.
University officials noted the NCA, an accreditation organization for higher education, has confirmed that the Chief is not in itself an accreditation issue for UIUC. The campus is a charter NCA member and has been continuously accredited for 90 years.
The next NCA focused visit will be in 2006-07 and will assess the impact of the Chief issue on the educational effectiveness of the campus. UIUC Interim Chancellor Richard Herman said the campus will comply with the next visit and will seek faculty input on the issue of educational effectiveness within the context of a commitment by the Board of Trustees to a consensus resolution of the Chief matter.
“Our effectiveness in educating our students is always a central consideration in all that we do. Because this issue is so important, I believe it is essential that we obtain full and comprehensive information concerning it,” Herman said.
Board Chairman Lawrence C. Eppley noted that while he and other board members might take issue with some of the report’s conclusions and challenge some of the NCA panelists’ personal opinions, he concurred with the NCA’s conclusion that the Chief is not an accreditation issue for the campus.
“The Board has been clear that any resolution of the Chief issue will be based upon consensus. Our goal remains, as we have said before, a solution that best serves the University rather than particular interest groups, and Interim Chancellor Herman’s approach should be an ingredient of our deliberations,” Eppley said.
Chief Illiniwek is a symbol for athletic teams at the UIUC campus. Supporters of the symbol say the 78-year tradition recognizes the state of Illinois’ heritage and should be preserved, while critics say it is a stereotype of Native Americans and should be discontinued.
Francis A. Boyle
Professor of Law
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Board of Directors, Amnesty International USA (1988-92)
Holder of 2 Football Season Tickets (Since About 1981)
Holder of 2 Basketball Season Tickets (Since About 1982)
In his letter of 16 July 1997 to Ms. Susan Gravenhorst, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, Professor Mort Winston, Chair of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) and a prominent University of Illinois Alumnus, called "Chief" Illiniwak a "human rights violation," condemned it in no uncertain terms, and demanded the elimination of this racist mascot. Before he joined the AIUSA Board, Professor Winston was the leading AIUSA expert on, and activist against, racism and apartheid in South Africa prior to the Mandela revolution. Professor Winston knows a human rights violation when he sees one.
The same is true for me. In addition to serving four years as a Member of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA, I was the person who single-handedly convinced the ultra-conservative Faculty of the University of Illinois College of Law to introduce a course on International Human Rights Law into the Law School Curriculum as Law 370, and have taught this course for many years to about 30 students per year. Illiniwak is indeed a human rights violation.
The United States government is a contracting party to the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Hence, this Racial Discrimination Convention is a "treaty' and thus the "supreme Law of the Land" under the so-called Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the United States Constitution:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
In other words, the Racial Discrimination Convention absolutely binds the entirety of the State of Illinois, including therein the University of Illinois.
Article 1(1) of the Racial Discrimination Convention defines the term "racial discrimination" as follows: "In this Convention the term 'racial discrimination' shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life." (Emphasis added.) Obviously, Illiniwak is a "distinction" on the multiple bases of "race," and "colour," and "descent." Illiniwak definitely has the "effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life" for Native American Students, Faculty, Staff and Community Members here at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. In accordance with the terms of this Racial Discrimination Convention to which the United States is a party, Illiniwak constitutes "racial discrimination" by the University of Illinois against Native Americans.
Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Racial Discrimination Convention provides as follows:
1. States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms, and promoting understanding among all races, and to this end:
(a) Each State Party undertakes to engage in no act or practice of racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions and to ensure that all public authorities and public institutions, national and local, shall act in conformity with this obligation;
(b) Each State Party undertakes not to sponsor, defend or support racial discrimination by any persons or organizations;
(c) Each State Party shall take effective measures to review governmental, national and local policies, and to amend, rescind or nullify any laws and regulations which have the effect of creating or perpetuating racial discrimination wherever it exists;
(d) Each State Party shall prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination by any persons, group or organization;
(e) Each State Party undertakes to encourage, where appropriate, integrationist multi-racial organizations and movements and other means of eliminating barriers between races, and to discourage anything which tends to strengthen racial division. [Emphasis added.]
Clearly, Illiniwak places the United States of America in breach of these most solemn obligations under Article 2 of the Racial Discrimination Convention. Illiniwak contravenes Racial Discrimination Convention Article 2. The conclusion is inexorable that to be in accordance with the terms of the Racial Discrimination Convention, the University of Illinois must eliminate Illiniwak.
Article 4 of the Racial Discrimination Convention clearly requires the Government of the United States of America to eliminate Illiniwak in no uncertain terms:
States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination, and to this end, with due regard to the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rights expressly set forth in article 5 of this Convention, inter alia:
(a) Shall declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin, and also the provision of any assistance to racist activities, including the financing thereof;
(b) Shall declare illegal and prohibit organizations, and also organized and all other propaganda activities, which promote and incite racial discrimination, and shall recognize participation in such organizations or activities as an offence punishable by law;
(c) Shall not permit public authorities or public institutions, national or local, to promote or incite racial discrimination. [Emphasis added.]
Notice in particular the requirement of Article 4(c) of the Racial Discrimination Convention: "Shall not permit public authorities or public institutions, national or local, to promote or incite racial discrimination." To the contrary, the University of Illinois deliberately promotes and incites racial discrimination against Native Americans by means of Illiniwak for the quite mercenary purpose of making money!
Article 5 of the Racial Discrimination Convention expressly requires the United States government "to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights..." (Emphasis added.) The conclusion is inexorable that Illiniwak contravenes Article 5 of the Racial Discrimination Convention.
Furthermore, Illiniwak also contravenes Article 6 of the Racial Discrimination Convention:
States Parties shall assure to everyone within their jurisdiction effective protection and remedies through the competent national tribunals and other State institutions against any acts of racial discrimination which violate his human rights and fundamental freedoms contrary to this Convention, as well as the right to seek from such tribunals just and adequate reparation or satisfaction for any damage suffered as a result of such discrimination.
Finally, Illiniwak contravenes Article 7 of the Racial Discrimination Convention:
States Parties undertake to adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in the fields of teaching, education, culture and information, with a view to combating prejudices which lead to racial discrimination and to promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations and racial or ethnical groups, as well as to propagating the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and this Convention.
The conclusion is inexorable that to be in accordance with the terms of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination the University of Illinois--a Public Institution--must eliminate Illiniwak.
As can be seen from the above analysis, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination expressly incorporates by reference the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). No point would be served here by detailing all the provisions of the UDHR that are currently being violated by Illiniwak. But in particular, I wish to draw to your attention UDHR Articles 1 and 2:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. (Emphasis added.)
The United States government has been in the vanguard of the worldwide movement to establish that these fundamental provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, inter alia, constitute customary international law. Customary international law is part of the common law of the United States of America and the common law of all the States of the Union. Customary international law applies to and binds the State of Illinois and the University of Illinois.
Clearly, by means of Illiniwak the University of Illinois refuses to act towards Native Americans "in a spirit of brotherhood" in violation of UDHR Article 1. Similarly, Illiniwak constitutes a "distinction" on the prohibited grounds of race, colour and religion, inter alia, in gross violation of UDHR Article 2. In other words, Illiniwak violates these most fundamental protections of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, inter alia, and thus violates customary international law and therefore the common law of both the United States and the State of Illinois.
I wish to end this Memorandum by joining those eloquent and powerful words addressed to Trustee Susan Gravenhorst by Professor Mort Winston, Chair of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International, my fellow AIUSA Board Colleague and Comrade-in-Arms in the long but successful struggle against racism and apartheid in South Africa:
In your present position as Chair of the Board of Trustees, you can steer university policy on this issue towards the greater good. I urge you to do so. UIUC's sport's fans and the marching band can find another mascot. Have a contest. Pick an animal or some culturally neutral symbol. Show some moral leadership so that perhaps the professional sports teams that also dishonor American Indians by debasing their cultural symbols will one day follow suit. But above all stop pretending that keeping "Chief Illiniwek" alive is somehow "honoring" the Native Americans who once roamed the plains where the University of Illinois now stands. In short, "Do the Right Thing -- Get Rid of the Chief!"