Sunday, November 11, 2007
"Of Polls and Race Prejudice: Sports Illustrated "Errant 'Indian Wars'"
One of the authors is a friend and colleague, Cornel Pewewardy. Read the article, and send others to it, too.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
It includes a link to an interview Sports Illustrated did with the last student (Dan Maloney) who dressed up as "chief illiniwek." Poor Dan. Sniff, sniff. (I say with sarcasm.) He can't play Indian at halftime anymore.
I wonder if he knows that Native people across the country were persecuted for doing our dances?
I wonder just how much he knows about the peoples he says he honors?!
I wonder if he knows that Native people wear shoes (moccasins)??!!
Do read the article. Last year when the mascot was retired, I felt quite optimistic about UIUC's growth, but I am now fearful that the 'free speech' argument means we'll see the mascot back at UIUC---not on the field---but in other non-sport spaces.
Monday, October 29, 2007
My post about "squaw" and "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" in historical fiction was much-discussed on YALSA (YALSA is an American Library Association listserv for young adult librarians). Most of the objections to my post were along these lines:
- It is wrong to censor books.
- That is what people said/thought at that time.
- Books with this language provide 'teachable moments' that are invaluable.
I wondered why the word 'censor' entered the discussion. I didn't ask that it be taken off the shelf. I posed the ramifications of using books with such language in an elementary school classroom and NOT engaging students in critical discussion of such words and phrases. What I'm advocating is the selective use of books like Sign of the Beaver and Little House on the Prairie and Matchlock Gun. What grade level should they be used? I think they ought to be used in high school classes that teach history, or social justice, or in college classes for teachers and librarians.
Below are the words of a classroom teacher. They were submitted as a comment to my post about "squaw" and "the only good Indian..." The teacher was responding to a previous commenter (her initials are DS) who suggested teachers at every grade level have dialog's with their students, in which they discuss these kinds of words, across race, gender, sexuality, etc.
DS, I see what you are saying, however, I think there is a point where you don't continue to use the word, even in teaching about (improper) use of the word. By analogy, would you choose and then discuss books that called people "Kike", "Yid", "Spic", "Chink", at the 4th grade level (which is more or less the age and grade that Sign of the Beaver is for)? I can see having a discussion and comparison of that as a lesson for older kids, but I think at this level, their thinking is still too concrete for a full discussion and it is best to use other books for literature instruction. I've taught grades 3, 4 & 5 for over 10 years, so I think I have a handle on kids' thought processes. Middle or high school as a comparative study for combined literature and social studies or social psychology possibly. But not as reading instruction for elementary school. I'm not saying to avoid discussion of that sort by any means at the elementary level - saying that in my opinion reading of this book for reading instruction at the elementary level would not be the way to go.
If you're teaching in a 3rd/4th/5th grade classroom, and have used books like these, and have done significant---not cursory---work on these words and phrases and way of thinking, I'd love to hear from you!
Or, if you're in a middle, high school, or college classroom, and have used these books, I'd love to hear from you, too.
Or, if you're a teacher and want to reread Little House and write a response to it in light of my perspectives on it, I'd love to hear from you.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
It's the lead article on the NY Times Education page:
University Reverses Policy to Allow Mascots Return
The first line?
"Chief Illiniwek has not yet left campus."
Here's some of what he says:
If you are going down to the game, what I do ask of people is that if you are drunk and happen to be wearing a goofy headdress, please do not attempt to do the dance. (or even if you aren't wearing a headdress) In our minds, it's demeaning and stupid. You look like a monkey and smell like one too. (I didn't mean to write that line, but it fit). I was there last weekend and saw it happening over and over again. I can see why the protesters thought we were being insensitive...because we were.
Your interpretation of the dance isn't fitting, it isn't respectful and it isn't helping the cause. For more than 80 years, the keepers of the tradition abide by strict rules of conduct on and off the field. We held the tradition in reverence and while the tradition is no more, it doesn't mean that your recreation is any better.
We've been on the reservation, we've seen the honor and elegance of the dance. Attempting to recreate it out of a drunken stupor is not what I or the other chiefs call respectful. It took us months of training of the body and the mind to get the dance right and it's proper place is on the field...not next to your keg.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
A few weeks ago, I saw a family of four (parents and two children) entering a local restaurant. They wore matching orange t-shirts that had the mascot logo and the dates signifying the eighty-year period during which it was in use.
I wondered just what those parents told their children about the issue. When they bought them those shirts, what did they tell them?
Given the decision to purchase the shirt with the logo on it, I assume they don't tell them it is a race-based symbol, or that American Indians object to such imagery. Maybe they say nothing at all, but if these are fans that go to the games, how do they tell their children the mascot is over and done? What do they say?
I'd like to know. I'd really like to know.
The U of I no longer sells merchandise that has either the logo or the word "Chief" on its sports page. Given the logo is trademarked, nobody else is authorized to use it either. Course, there was a window of time when people bought everything they could, so there's plenty of stuff around for parents to buy for themselves and their children.
It seems to me they commemorate racism...
Thursday, May 3, 2007
"Trail of Cheers" is what the Daily Show called their segment on UIUC's decision to discontinue use of "Chief Illiniwek" as its sports mascot. Here is a link to the segment.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
- A resolution was put forth for a public vote.
- Trustee Carroll amended the resolution, adding text that revokes the 1990 resolution that "retained" the chief as UI's symbol. She also inserted language that says Chancellor Herman will have full responsibility for resolving the issue.
- Trustee Dorris spoke against the resolution, at length.
- Trustee Sperling acknowledged the heartfelt sentiments of pro chief people, saying he felt that way at one time, too, and is sad that it has to end, but that it is important to let it go and move on.
- Dorris continued, developing a legal argument re the by-laws, procedure, etc.
- Trustee Montgomery (newly appointed) intervened saying the legal discussion does not take precedence over a moral issue, stating this is a MORAL issue and is about doing what is right.
- The BOT then voted. Only Dorris voted against the resolution.
The announcement made by BOT Chair Eppley in February was unsatisfying, because it did not acknowledge what is WRONG with the chief illiniwek. Today's BOT meeting was different. It acknowledged what is wrong.
In particular, Trustee Sperling said he did not ever (speaking emphatically) want to sit and listen to another UIUC Native student describe her/her experiences on this campus with this issue. The student who spoke today is Genevieve Tenoso (with her permission, her remarks are below).
If you want to read press on this, google "illiniwek" (then click on the 'news' tab) and you'll find a great many articles. If you want to read our local (conservative, pro-chief) paper's coverage, go here:
UI Trustees Approve Resolution to end Chief Illiniwek.
The BOT also voted NOT to join a lawsuit being brought against the NCAA, by the two students who portray chief illiniwek. I do think we're at a definitive moment today.
The school will retain the name "Fighting Illini" --- and remake "Illini" such that it does not have any Native imagery or association. Whether they will be successful or not is a question and concern, but I do think we've turned a corner. It is my preference that they get rid of "Illini" too and begin anew with an entirely new sports team name, logo, and mascot.
My name is Genevieve Tenoso, I am a Lakota/Ojibwa graduate student in Anthropology, and I am here today in order to speak to you about courage.
In my first year here, I was asked to write an essay that said something about who I was and what I hoped to accomplish.
I wrote about my grandmother. A strong, intelligent woman who put aside her own dreams of higher education in order to raise a family, and then later, my sister and myself.
That took enormous courage. To know just how much she was giving up, but to go ahead and do it anyway, because she knew we needed her.
In that essay I said that I wanted to pick up where she left off all those years ago when she was, like me, standing on the threshold of life, with paths before her branching off in every direction. Every road lined with seemingly endless opportunities.
But I am here today, in order to tell you that because of choices you've made, or failed to make, I haven't had one, single day on this campus when something didn't remind me that there is a big difference between the “Indian” you'd prefer me to be, and the living, breathing Native person that I am.
I am here in order to let you know that I am not alone in feeling this way, that for many of us, just simply coming to school is an act of courage. That because of choices you've made, or failed to make, we know that the color of our skin, the faiths we believe in, or the people we choose to love mean the difference between a rich, rewarding academic experience, and one fraught with stress, tension and fear.
I'd like to think that I am, like my grandmother, both brave and strong, but I stand before you today in fear.
Afraid for my future, and frightened for my life. I've been taunted, maligned and threatened for nothing more than standing up and saying “you have no right to lie about who I am; about who other Native people are".
That, takes courage. but courage is more than just facing your fears.
Courage is standing up for what you know is right, not just getting away with whatever you can.
Courage is accepting responsibility for your actions, not just washing your hands of them and claiming your conscience is clear.
Courage is answering hard questions, it's showing up and being willing to listen to those who may tell you things you'd rather not hear.
You were invited to the forum on Racism, Power and Privilege at UIUC and you didn't even bother to show up. No one on this board could take the time to come and listen to the people who are most affected by the racial tensions on this campus. The people whose lives your choices have real consequences for.
You didn't show up because you didn't have to.
I was there, just like I am here, because I have to be.
When someone threatens to put a tomahawk into your face, you have to either stand your ground, or run away. When you discover that there are people who would rather butcher you like an animal than have you disagree with them, you have to react. You have no choice.
When the administration looks the other way while students of privilege commit these kinds of acts of psychic violence, none of us have a choice anymore.
And in a climate which progressively moves toward bolder and bolder acts of hate and intolerance, a time will surely come when no one at the university will be able to come away and say they have a clear conscience.
Every time you fail to show courage, we have to.
I'm no fool. I wouldn't put myself in harms way in order to satisfy some personal whim. I am here in order to speak for all of those who should be here, but couldn't be. I am here especially for all of those who we hope will be here someday, and in whose cause I am willing to risk much.
I am here to say that though I fear for myself, my hope gives me courage, because I know that with every wall I help to tear down, and every obstacle we remove, those who come after will be able to get just a little bit farther before they have to start fighting the same battles I've had to fight.
Maybe someday, through our combined efforts, we can clear that path and make this University a place of opportunity for all people. Maybe someday you will publicly acknowledge your part in creating an atmosphere where intolerance and bigotry and hate are the natural consequences of excessive school spirit.
Maybe someday you will show courage.
Until then. We will have to. I will have to.
In this place of learning, I sincerely hope you will learn from our example
Friday, February 9, 2007
1) Letter #1: An Open Letter from my daughter to the Uni Community (sent 1:00 AM, 2/10/2007)
2) Letter #2: Immediately following it is a hurtful, uncaring response to Liz from a Uni parent [Note: Earlier, I included this parent's name along with her remarks, but I have decided it is not helpful to reveal her name. Her remarks are important, so they remain visible here.] (received at 11:33 AM, 2/10/2007)
3) Letter #3: A letter from a Uni parent, submitted as a comment at 11:56 AM, 2/10/2007. This parent anticipated the uncaring response in "Letter #2"
4) Letter #4: A letter from a Uni alum, submitted as a comment at 12:16 PM, 2/10/2007.
5) Letter #5: A letter, submitted as a comment, that contains the analysis that Letter #3 asked for.
6) Letter #6: A letter I (Debbie Reese, Liz's mother) wrote and circulated at 7:11 AM on 2/11/2007.
7) Letter #7: Letter to Uni Community from UIUC Provost Katehi and Uni Director Patton, sent at 2:42 PM on 2/15/2007.
NOTE: UIUC HAS A WEBSITE DESIGNED TO HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND WHAT ACTS OF INTOLERANCE LOOK LIKE, AND WHAT A HATE CRIME IS.
(1) Liz's letter
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2007 01:31:38 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Racist attacks on Uni Native Student
The controversy surrounding the Gargoyle Editorial Tolerance at Uni is now infamous. The MSA program and senior editors of the Gargoyle have been criticized harshly by our community, at times crossing the boundary of respect, a boundary that this email concerns.
"Nobody commenting here is racist, Jude. In fact, most of us are from extremely diverse backgrounds (more so than Liz, who—shockingly—is only HALF Native American).""The MSA has met disagreeing viewpoints because the people who run it (i.e. Liz) fail to see that there are other people who have problems out there, and that they might even be feeling more pain. The people here who are the most uncomfortable are the editors, who have been verbally abused and still haven’t backed down—they’re 16- and 17-year-olds who do not run a professional publication, and yet you’re calling them arrogant and ignorant racists. Unlike Liz, they are not privileged enough to comment back—they’ll only be accused of being white supremacists once more. The irony is that, as Andrea Park pointed out early on in this onslaught, most of them could be seen as less privileged than Liz: out of the 10 of them, 8 are from non-White Anglo-Saxon Protestant origins, and of those 8, none of them are less than 1/2 ethnic.""If Liz and the gang were truly so underprivileged and mistreated, they wouldn’t be able to carry on this ideological battle, and Liz wouldn’t be getting paid for causing unnecessary dissent; if you all represent an underprivileged culture that’s been so suppressed by the mainstream, then how come you’re employed by a highly-regarded university, such as the U of I? How is it that you all are members of middle class America? If you were truly so underprivileged, you’d be living in the inner city in the slums, or in a hovel on a reservation somewhere (and to those people who do live in such terrible conditions, I extend my warmest sentiments, as well as my hand for aid—I realize that there’s such a thing as racism, but I don’t see that The Chief trumps an example of genocide such as the Holocaust).""And in case you were wondering, one of the students leading the MSA group is much better off than my family financially, and is also lighter skinned (which to me is not a big deal, but to you, skin color seems to be very important).""is Liz Reese darker skinned than Arabs? I don’t about you, but my eyes tell me no. Is she darker than other races (i.e. Some asians, Indians, etc.)? No. So is she being mistreated because of her skin color? Not as far as I know. If the MSA program comes down to skin color, then there is no excuse for it excluding so many groups. And ultimately, skin color is what its coming down to. Liz Reese is Native American. Or 1/4 Native American rather. I respect that, I truly do. But she is just as privileged as any other person at Uni. There are people MUCH less well off than her. And her skin color is not darker than a white person with a tan. So where is her mistreatment coming in?"
LETTER FROM UNI PARENT
Subject: RE: [UNI] Racist attacks on Uni Native Student
Date: Sat, February 10, 2007 11:33
To: "Elizabeth A. Reese"
This was a mistake, miss. Sorry, but it does not
deserve URGENT status on my e-mail. And by
enclosing the snippets of deleted e-mail, you
intrigued me enough to read e-mails that
weren't all that bad. In short, I now
think you're a child throwing a tantrum.
So please, don't e-mail me again.
Letter from Uni parent that anticipated the letter directly above:
I'm a Uni parent, and I'm so sorry that your family has suffered these attacks. I think Liz is doing wonderful work and I thank her for it. I also hope this whole uproar brings about some constructive, recuperative discussion at Uni.
I worry that her email to all Uni folks this morning will further fan some flames against her, by not explaining just what was wrong with the deleted comments. What is offensive and repugnant about them won't be self-evident to some of the people who directly or even vaguely oppose or resent Liz's work.
I think it was a good idea to document the comments by reprinting them for all to see, but a more direct explanation of just what's wrong with them seems more helpful. Otherwise, some people will think or say, "'Racist Attacks on a Native American Student'? What racist attacks? These commenters were censored simply for stating what they think, while Liz and then her mother are allowed to stay on their soapbox and make their exaggerated claims of victimhood."
Maybe Debbie could add another post to this blog that directly analyzes what's racist and dangerous about the deleted Gargoyle comments? Again, I understand that, but I think some still don't. At any rate, it is good to get those comments out in public in another sense--doing so will probably stop the even more hateful and threatening direction they were headed towards.
Letter from Uni alum, submitted as a comment at 12:16 PM, 2/10/2007.
As a Uni alum, I was disappointed to read the editorial and comments from people who feel that Uni's environment is adequate in addressing diversity issues (not just race but economic class and sexual orientation as well).
Uni has made some progress over the years-They ended the "slave sales" after my subbie year, they added a Spanish language program after I graduated (imagine, a high school that offers Japanese and Russian language studies but no Spanish). However, these changes only came about because people *spoke out* about them.
However, for every step forward, there were still things that Uni made little progress on. My subbie year a fellow subbie recieved a note informing her that "niggers" don't belong at Uni. She decided to leave Uni, we had an assembley, and that was that. Actions from one student-yes-but the school's response to that note sets the tone for how racial issues are to be dealt at the school.
When should we as a community be content? Shouldn't we always be stiving to make Uni (and the greater UI community) a better place?
Letter #5, submitted as a comment on 2/10/2007
I don't interact with people in high school often enough to have a good idea of what they should know or understand at that age (Liz herself excepted because I have a hard time remembering that she's even in high school. Something which I suspect says more about her intellectual abilities than it does about my poor memory). But I can say that the comments you've posted here demonstrate a kind of thinking that lies at the heart of what I'd call 'neo-racism'.
I call it that because unlike the kind of racism I grew up with -- which didn't really bother itself much with excuses or explanations -- this new version is chock full of half truths, sophisms and twisted logic, and is inordinately fond of justifying itself.
The primary component of this type of racism though, is that it sincerely, even passionately believes that it is nothing of the sort.
And there's the rub.
It's easy enough to refute overt racist thinking, but it's terribly difficult to fight neo-racism because it's so confused and self deluded. If you want to make a change, you have to attack the thinking that lies behind these kinds of arguments, because the arguments themselves are entirely specious.
Therefore education is the key, and the academy will be the battleground.
It's just sad that in this war, as in all wars, it's mainly the young people who end up having to fight them.
Letter #6, by Debbie Reese, circulated at 7:11 AM on 2/11/07, posted here at 7:51 on 2/11/07.
As you know, Liz's letter was approved for distribution by the Director/Principal at Uni. We are all receiving an outpouring of support from parents, teachers, our colleagues, and Liz is also getting some support from peers at Uni.
I did not think her letter would be released for distribution. I thought the Director would feel a need to protect Uni. Releasing it was, I think, risky for her, but I think it also signals to us that she sees the value in exposing this stuff to the broader community. Only by exposure will our communities be able to acknowledge the depth of ignorance that must be tended to, and only with exposure can we see the depth of resistance that we are all up against.
This has been difficult. From a very hurt place yesterday, I sent all of you the letter from a parent who wrote to Liz, telling Liz that she is only "throwing a tantrum." Last night, the woman wrote to ask that I retract that email from public email lists. I don't know how to retract an email. I don't know how she knew I had shared her letter. Perhaps one (or more) of you wrote to her.
Yesterday afternoon (prior to receiving her email asking me to retract it), I considered the ramifications for the public broadcast of her name. Might she have allies that would further dump on Liz? How will her daughter and her daughter's friends respond to Liz? With that in mind, I removed her name from the blog where I posted Liz's letter, and the woman's letter and three other responses (http://nativeperspectiveonchiefilliniwek.blogspot.com/).
There have been other letters submitted, but I'm not sure if it is necessary for me to paste them above. (Update, 8:18 AM, 2/11/07: These additional letters can be read in the "Comments" portion of the blog.) The four that are above capture the substance of the others, and rather than demonstrate a show of support, I want this page to reflect the situation in its totality. That parent's sentiments must remain visible. Who she is is not important. What is important is that we know what resistance to change looks like.
Last night, a Uni student who writes for the paper came to visit with Liz. This student supports Liz, and did so publicly on the comments to the editorial. They both see the need for further engagement with this topic and situation. They plan to have a dialogue between the two of them that will be published in the paper.
Uni students will keep working to increase understanding, respect, and change. Faculty and administration at Uni will, too, but they're going to need support.
Uni is a small place, underfunded, always in need of donations. In fact, they need parent donations to run the school. This isn't like a gifted school in Chicago [Note: an individual associated with a Chicago gifted school has pointed out that not all Chicago gifted schools are affluent; hers is much like Uni.]. Uni limps along. It is the University's "laboratory high school," where innovative sorts of educational efforts can be implemented. Right now, with this situation, I think it imperative that a significant chunk of UIUC's budget be directed towards Uni to deal with these issues. UIUC itself is massive, but Uni is not. UIUC is struggling with how to effect change and respect for difference. Uni is, too. Can UIUC's money, and the expertise of its faculty, be put to work at Uni?
We are grateful to all of you for your letters and support.
(Please note that I am copying UIUC administrators on this message. Uni's home is in the Office of the Provost.)
Letter #7: Letter to Uni Community from UIUC Provost Katehi and Uni Director Patton, sent at 2:42 PM on 2/15/2007.
They appeared on the school's newspaper website, and have been taken down by school administration. I am posting them here so that others can read them in their entirety.
Until it is taken down, too, the entire conversation during which these two posts occurred is available here: http://www.uni.uiuc.edu/gargoyle/2007/02/editorial.htm
Judith Estrada is yet another shining example of a seemingly illiterate commenter. Nobody commenting here is racist, Jude. In fact, most of us are from extremely diverse backgrounds (more so than Liz, who—shockingly—is only HALF Native American). Our ancestors were killed too.
For instance, Jono commented on his Jewish heritage—the Holocaust happened much more recently than the initial European colonization of the
These students have come across a much more tangible intolerance, from meeting remaining survivors, or even being treated violently themselves.
And yet, unlike the MSA founders, they haven’t used this (EXTERNAL) intolerance as a crutch. The MSA has met disagreeing viewpoints because the people who run it (i.e. Liz) fail to see that there are other people who have problems out there, and that they might even be feeling more pain.
The people here who are the most uncomfortable are the editors, who have been verbally abused and still haven’t backed down—they’re 16- and 17-year-olds who do not run a professional publication, and yet you’re calling them arrogant and ignorant racists.
Unlike Liz, they are not privileged enough to comment back—they’ll only be accused of being white supremacists once more. The irony is that, as Andrea Park pointed out early on in this onslaught, most of them could be seen as less privileged than Liz: out of the 10 of them, 8 are from non-White Anglo-Saxon Protestant origins, and of those 8, none of them are less than 1/2 ethnic.
Of the Uni High students, I’m sure Ms. Patton or Sue Kovacs could give you an accurate number of economically underprivileged children, and most of them would probably be white (especially considering the previous implications that Uni is comprised of all whites—I suppose the massive percentage of Asian, Indian, and Arab kids doesn’t count for anything else).
If Liz and the gang were truly so underprivileged and mistreated, they wouldn’t be able to carry on this ideological battle, and Liz wouldn’t be getting paid for causing unnecessary dissent; if you all represent an underprivileged culture that’s been so suppressed by the mainstream, then how come you’re employed by a highly-regarded university, such as the U of I? How is it that you all are members of middle class
Disagreeing with you and pointing out the flaws in your argument isn’t racism—painting a picture of Uni as a breeding ground for racism and intolerance…that’s another story.
And one more thing: Latina/Latino only refers to a certain demographic; Hispanic is a broader term that applies also to Spanish-speaking Europeans—you obviously know what you’re talking about, Judith.
Posted by: Anonymous | February 9, 2007 9:59 PM |
Ok. Well let me ask you something. You say:
“Some people are mistreated because their skin pigment is darker (an otherwise irrelevant trait, thus proven by biology).”
I agree. Now I ask you, is Liz Reese darker skinned than Arabs? I don’t about you, but my eyes tell me no. Is she darker than other races (i.e. Some asians, Indians, etc.)? No. So is she being mistreated because of her skin color? Not as far as I know.
If the MSA program comes down to skin color, then there is no excuse for it excluding so many groups. And ultimately, skin color is what its coming down to.
Liz Reese is Native American. Or 1/4 Native American rather. I respect that, I truly do. But she is just as privileged as any other person at Uni. There are people MUCH less well off than her. And her skin color is not darker than a white person with a tan. So where is her mistreatment coming in?
Friday, February 2, 2007
The largest auditorium on the UIUC campus filled quickly for yesterday's forum, "Racism, Power, and Privilege at UIUC." Two other buildings on campus were set up for overflow, where they could view the webcast.
There is a link to the archived webcast at http://www.iresist.org.
News coverage of the forum:
"School Hears Calls to End Mascot's Act"
Friday, Feb. 2, 2007, Page A02
UIUC's Daily Illini
STOP forum lets students voice concerns
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Racism, Power, and Privilege at UIUC
The second half of the forum is a Q&A during which moderators will read questions to administrators.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
January 18, 2007
A press conference to discuss an Oglala Sioux Resolution will be held on Thursday, 1/18/07, at 10:00 AM, in the Conference Room at the Native American House, 1204 W. Nevada Street, Urbana.
January 17, 2007
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.A pdf copy of the resolution is here.
News articles on the resolution:
Chicago Tribune: "Tribe Demands Return of Regalia"
Daily Illini (UIUC's student paper): "Native American tribe demands return of Chief Illiniwek regalia"
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2007 16:25:19 -0600 (CST)
To: All Faculty & All Academic Professionals & All Civil Service Staff &
All Undergrad Students & All Grad Students
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
Please! We've issued many statements on the harm caused by UIUC's mascot.
Rather than ask us for interviews, talk to UIUC's Board of Trustees. Do NOT let them give you the empty statements they've issued for too long already, that they are seeking a compromise. They've been seeking that compromise for at least two years.
And talk to UI's President, B. Joe White. Ask him why, as the president of this institution, he cannot make a statement asking that the BOT retire the mascot.
For Immediate Release
January 8, 2006
Pro-Chief Students Issue Call for Racism and Violence against American Indians at University of Illinois
As concerned citizens of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and as faculty in the university's American Indian Studies Program and staff at the Native American House, we wish to call attention to a recent incident of university students explicitly advocating racist violence against American Indians in general and against one American Indian student in particular.
We call on the university leadership and the university community to express public and unequivocal outrage at this incident. We also call on the university authorities to initiate disciplinary proceedings.
Student behavior of this kind directly violates the University Student Code, section 1-302 parts a 2, d 3, f, g, o 4, and o 5. For the Rules of Conduct in the University Student Code, see http://www.admin.uiuc.edu/policy/code/article_1/a1_1-302.html. Student behavior of this kind also violates the university's publicly stated policy on acts of intolerance (http://www.odos.uiuc.edu/stophate/intro.asp).
On Facebook, the popular student-centered social web forum, a University of Illinois student has begun a group called "If They Get Rid of the Chief I'm Becoming a Racist." The group's web site can be viewed at this Facebook address: http://uillinois.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2216973206, though it is likely that Facebook authorities will soon remove the site, because it violates Facebook policies. One hundred and ten University of Illinois students have joined this group.
Two students have posted inflammatory messages on the group's web site. These messages are available to any web user who registers with Facebook, which includes most University of Illinois students and many other people across the campus community and across the national and world-wide network of Facebook users.
On November 20, 2006, a University of Illinois student posted the following explicitly racist words that call for the death of Indian people, which of course includes the Indian people who are members of the University of Illinois community: "what 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." On December 2, 2006, another student wrote the following explicit threat, a call for violence directed at a specific University of Illinois student: "that's the worst part! apparently the leader of this movement is of Sioux descent. Which means what, you ask? the Sioux indians are the ones that killed off the Illini indians, so she's just trying to finish what her ancestors started. I say we throw a tomohawk into her face."
No university can continue to function normally when its students explicitly and publicly threaten and call for violence against other students. Such a call would not be tolerated if it were made against another racial group. No university community or leadership can tolerate such actions. We, the American Indian Studies faculty and Native American House staff of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, call on the university community and leadership to condemn these actions publicly and vociferously.