Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gems from the UIUC archives

Some of this may be in Carol Spindel's book. I found them this morning. UIUC library has a database of digitized Illio (yearbooks) and the like. It's one of those things you can access if you're on faculty/staff or a student. It's called "Illinois Digital Magazine and Yearbook Collection" and it is currently featured at the History, Philosophy & Newspaper Library page. Ray Morales, UIUC student, has done research in the archives, too, producing an outstanding video that was played at the Racism, Power and Privilege Forum.

"A Challenge to the Chief," 1974, p. 154

This page includes a photograph of Clyde Bellecourt. The caption with the photo is "Clyde Bellecourt, co-founder of Aim [sic] spoke on the problems of the American Indian at Lincoln Hall in April."
"Mike Gonzales, the current Chief, said that the only requirement in being considered for the position is an eagle spread jump. However, Gonzales felt that Illiniwek is "majestic" and a symbol of fighting spirit. "In no way does it degrade the American Indian," Gonzales said. "I think Illiniwek honors the Indian."

"John Bitzer, Illiniwek from 1970-73, also defended the role. "Other university mascots are just caricatures but Illiniwek portrays the Indians as they would want to be portrayed."

"The symbol of Chief Illiniwek was removed from University stationary this year to appease AIM."

"From Eagle Scout to Indian Chief", by Jane Karr, Illio, 1974, p. 158
"The outfit was made by 30 Sioux women under the supervision of "an old woman who spoke no English," Borchers said. According to Borchers the woman had helped mutilate General George Custer's body at the Battle of Little Birhorn."

"Borchers spent three weeks on the reservation. "I lived in an Indian tepee with an Indian family," Borchers said. "I was officially taken into the Aoglaoa clan with a sacred pipe ceremony."

"It's the most outstanding tradition at any university in the land, with no intentions of disrespect to the Indians," Borchers said.

"A Tarnished Golden Anniversary" by Steve Pokin, Illio 1974 (or 75?), p. 165.
"As Chief Illiniwek did his soft-shoe number at the bonfire, couples danced to their heart's content at the Homecoming..."
(Note: One of the football players was killed before the game; hence "tarnished" in the characterization of that year's homecoming.)

Illio, 1979, page 73
"The Chief comes alive with the rest of the stadium as he begins what he calls his "frantic dance for three minutes,"

"Chief Illiniwek, according to Gawnee, represents a symbol of the University's athletics and is not what his critics choose to call him - a mascot."

"Yet, some students throughout the year have been bothered by what they call "a media-produced and inaccurate image of native Americans as savage and frenzied hordes" when they watch the Chief exhibit his 80 yard dance."

"The woman who responsible for making the second outfit knew Custer."

"During World War II, Idele Stiths symbolized the fighting spirit as Princess Illiniwek. Although it is traditional for each person portraying the University symbol to sign the war bonnet upon graduation, Stith's name has been removed. The explanation -- in Indian culture it was customary for a woman's place to be behind the horse."

"Maybe there are some who would criticize the Chief for not riding a horse - all Indians ride horses, don't they? Wait, there's an explanation! The second Chief did ride a horse. In fact, he even trained the horse - just like other Indians do."

"Pow Wow '88" in Illio 89, story by Tanja Powers, p. 76:
"A triumphal march, may the Illini scalp Michigan State - The Homecoming Parade got off to a strong but sure start on Friday, October 22, 1988."

"Coach Mackovic offered many words of inspiration, before Tom Livingston performed what looked like a ceremonial dance as Chief Illiniwek XXVI."

"Illini Tradition." 1989 Illio, unsigned, p. 134:
"I alone was drawn there [Memorial Stadium] one weekday afternoon by this strange force, and looking down on Zuppke Field I could faintly see something. A mystical Indian form made his way out on to midfield and began a slow, rhythmic dance which progressed into a frenzy of leaps and twirls. As I felt myself drawn to him, something told me that he was from beyond the realm of the living; indeed, it was Lester Leutwiler, the first Chief Illiniwek. As I approached him he held up a single hand, palm side facing me, and uttered one word: "Sit."

"I crouched onto the astroturf surface and stared awestruck at this form from the past. "What do you wish to see?" he asked. Apparently he was giving me one chance to experience a single great moment of Illni history. My heart began to race....

Livingston then talks about some things that he'd like to see and says ""Show me Red Grange." He suddenly finds himself in the stands with fans cheering Grange. Then just as suddenly, he's alone again on the astroturf.

"Missing: Totem Pole," by Kelly Johnson, Illio 1984, p. 109

(Note: Apparently there was once a totem pole on the football field.)

"The ordeal that shook Champaign-Urbana began one warm summer night when the totem pole was stolen from Memorial Stadium. The theft shocked many University officials, who feared the worst for the football season without the pole's presence at the north end of the field."
It was a prank. The pole was found in a field in St. Joseph by a farmer, Kevin Grice. He brought it back to campus in his truck. It was 16 ft long, and weighed 300 lbs.
"The authentic American Indian totem pole was donated by Barton Cummings, class of 1935, in commenoration of Chief Illiniwek's 50th Anniversary. It was carved by Maurice Dennis, chief of the Abenaki Tribe of Canada and painted by his wife, Juliette."
(Note: I wonder where that pole is now?!)

"Illini Beer--for the spirit of it," by Sheila Doyle, Illio 1984, p. 110:

"Everything from coffee mugs to mittens bears the Illini name, with the newest arrival on the shelves being Illini Beer. This draft was contrived by Freedom Spirit, Inc. in October of 1982."

"Much confusion and misunderstanding has surrounded the beer, but Illini fans have given it a chance. The confusion centered around the approval or disapproval of the product by University of Illinois officials. According to John Burness, Public Relations Director, the University did not give its permission to use the Illini name, but at the same time could not prohibit its use (The Athletic Association has since patented Chief Illiniwek). However, the University's stand on the subject is clear, as seen on each can: "The University of Illinois disclaims all responsibility for the production, marketing, and distribution of this product." This explains why the Chief looks different on the can."

(Apparently, it didn't taste good, so didn't sell well.)

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