Regional and National Opinion
Wall Street Journal,
Frederick Klein, 11/17/00:
editorial titled "Retire The Chief", 3/7/01:
Native Americans are pained by the Chief [Illiniwek] and his ilk, and wish they'd
The Chief's fate shouldn't be decided by a vote...
Sports are supposed to be fun, and neither they nor the ceremonies that
surround them should cause distress.
The university should rise above the
Chief's supporters and detractors and ease him into retirement.
Klein is a U.I. graduate (1959).
National Education Association,
Advocate Online (Gurleen Grewal), 1/2000
By now board [of trustees] members should recognize
that their athletic teams' controversial symbol
has become too great a distraction... the University of Illinois is, after all,
an academic institution. It is a fine one. Imagine how much better it
might be if all that energy were focused on issues that actually enhanced the
Southern Poverty Law Center,
Letter to UIUC, 4/14/00:
Symbols are extremely powerful and convey complex messages. The use of Native American
symbols - such as Chief Illiniwek at the University of Illinois ... conveys a message that
is far from amusing.
These symbols are neither 'compliments' to the Native American
people nor acknowledgements of their heritage.
Margaret McCloskey, 5/31/03:
Chief Illiniwek is a racial caricature that represents "Indian" culture in a simplistic
and stereotypical fashion... An image that denigrates members of the University community
can hardly serve as a symbol of school spirit and unity.
The Southern Poverty Law Center asks that you 'retire' Chief Illiniwek so that all of
your students, alumni, and faculty can celebrate the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign's successes in the classroom, on the basketball court, and on
the football field with pride and honor.
The SPLC, founded in 1971, is a nationally-recognized organization dedicated to
tolerance and diversity.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel -
The only thing that seemed to divide the students [on UIUC Homecoming Weekend] was our
mascot. It makes very little sense - the mascot should be a symbol of school spirit
and pride. I'm not very bothered by Illiniwek ... on
the other hand, I wouldn't really
miss him if he did disappear.
Chronicle of Higher Education,
There is a major furor surrounding 'Chief Illiniwek.' As well there should be.
With the continued presence of Chief Illiniwek, the University of Illinois is
merely making a spectacle of itself.
Sports Illustrated, Franz Lidz, 9/17/90, article
"Not a very sporting symbol: Indians have ceased to be appropriate team mascots"
I recently applied for a faculty position at the university [of Illinois], but when I
learned that it aggressively promotes the perpetuation of stereotypical representations of
native people, I withdrew my application... [with the] denigrating, stereotypical portrayal
of a native religious leader ... I could hardly expect that the university would protect
my rights as a female faculty member. Indeed, I doubt that any underrepresented group
would be treated respectfully...
- Sarah L. Pallas
Pallas is an Associate Professor at Georgia State University, Atlanta
UIC Today, Kip Bordelon, 1/21/03, article
Why Chief Illiniwek must go:
[Chief Illiniwek] is the sort of ignoble savage that grunted and circled wagon trains
in Saturday afternoon serials. Many Native Americans find the university's Indian chief
about as palatable as the cigar-store variety... The Indian has nothing to do with
football and everything to do with what's sacred to the Native American heritage.
USA Today Magazine, 1/2001 -
It really is quite simple; the Chief Illiniwek mascot is extremely disrespectful, quite
offensive, and plain racist to Native Americans and others. How dare any person insist on
maintaining a symbol that has been deemed offensive to another person's race and culture...
The failure of the University to fully appreciate the depth of anger and indignation felt
by Native Americans showcases the University in the wors[t] possible light as insensitive
The Dark Side of Sports Symbols, by D. Stanley Eitzen and Maxine Baca Zinn:
Colleges and universities, for the most part, are making major efforts to diversify ... by
race, ethnicity, and sex. This laudable goal is clearly at odds with the existence of
racist and sexist names and practices of their athletic teams... Another problem is the
imitation or misuse of symbols that have religious significance to some Native American
peoples. Utilizing dances, chants, drummings, and other rituals at sporting events clearly
tends to trivialize their meaning... This allegiance to their school symbols seems to
have higher priority than insensitivity to the negative consequences produced by inappropriate
depictions of Native Americans.
But no logo is more questionable than the Indian, used for years by schools as a favored
symbol of competitiveness: the crazed tomahawk-waving "Injun," the noble savage in
a headdress. Taking that final step - finding a fierce new mascot altogether -
is true sportsmanship.
Black Issues in Higher Education - Article regarding NAACP resolution - 8/19/99:
Team nicknames and mascots are surprisingly controversial issues, but it's rarely hard
to figure out the right answer... Most of us, if a gesture intended to flatter ended up
giving offense, would not want to make it again. But some Illinoisans want to go on
"honoring" Indians no matter how angry it makes them. If the U. of I. were to retire
the chief, officials could spend more time worrying about the really important problems
facing higher education. That day can't come too soon.
Amnesty International, Letter from Chair of Board, to UIUC
[excerpt here], 7/16/97:
[It] rejects the use of Native Americans and
'all historically oppressed people and their cultural
traditions' as sports mascots and symbols.
grew out of a longtime fight at
the University of Illinois to ban Chief Illiniwek, the school's mascot...
Chicago Tribune, Letter, 1/28/00:
Much of the interethnic conflict in the world results from the failure of some cultural
groups to honor and respect the right of different, usually minority, groups to preserve
and protect their distinctive cultural heritage and traditions....While the First Amendment
gives UIUC the right to use these symbols [dancing, chanting, face-painting wearing eagle
feathers] in a way that dishonors and debases them, it is shameful and wrong for UIUC
to exercise this right in this way...
San Francisco Chronicle:
It's now time for friends of the university ... to recognize that the proper way to honor
the people for whom our state is named is to listen to the legitimate objections of Native
Americans and others offended by the chief's antics. It's time to find a new name and
mascot for the University of Illinois teams.
- U. Chicago professor Amy Dahlstrom
Review of "In Whose Honor" by Jeff Pealman, 7/14/97:
"Chief Illiniwek is a cartoon from another era"
[Chief Illiniwek's] dance--sort of M.C. Hammer meets Richard Simmons meets Biff the
town idiot--was supposed to recall an Indian ritual. It failed miserably...
Bad P.R. for the University:
Chief Illiniwek is a poor symbol for the University of Illinois
Just the facts - or in this case, opinions.
National publicity regarding the Chief and other Native American
sports symbols is predominantly negative. Even prominent former supporters
of the Chief have since recommended his retirement.
Where poor publicity is concerned, you might point your finger
at RetireTheChief. Shoot the messenger if you will, but our point
here is that national press on the Chief - and by association,
on the University of Illinois - is highly and visibly unfavorable.
Read on for the opinions of regional and national organizations,
newspapers and magazines on use of Native American symbols in
general, and Chief Illiniwek in particular. Keep in mind
that such press may constitute a (poor) first impression of the U. of I.
for national leaders and media as well as prospective students and faculty.
Isn't it time to retire the Chief?
Chicago Sun-Times -
Paul Simon - 9/12/00:
Talkback Live statement by Vernon Bellecourt, 4/16/01:
..the alumni and University of Illinois board of trustees .. have not reached the point
of sensitivity that their colleagues at Dartmouth and Stanford and other schools have
achieved. It is an Illinois school tradition that they enjoyed as students and they
nostalgically want to continue that, even though the American Indian community objects? ...
sooner or later the University of Illinois will join other schools in abandoning this
symbol, and the sooner the better.
Linguistic Society of America -
Resolution Opposing Chief Illiniwek, 1/12/2000:
While there's nothing wrong with the word "Warriors," "Braves," "Chiefs," or "Indians,"
those are not our words. Those words created by Hollywood movies and the cheap 10-cent
Western novelists. But when you attach it to a sports team, then it conjures up and triggers
all the ridiculous behavior, stereotypical behavior, which is really an offense and an
insult to Indian people and non-Indian people ...
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights -
Statement on the Use of Native American Images and Nicknames as Sports Symbols -
The Linguistic Society of America urges the
administration and trustees of the University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign to replace "Chief Illiniwek" with a
symbol that does not promote inaccurate, anachronistic, and
damaging stereotypes of Native American people, or indeed
members of any minority group...
The LSA further chose "to not
return to the state of Illinois as long as 'Chief
Illiniwek' remains an official symbol at the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign."
Indian Country Today,
It is particularly disturbing that Native American references are still to be found in
educational institutions, whether elementary, secondary or post-secondary...
The use of stereotypical images of Native Americans by educational institutions has the
potential to create a racially hostile educational environment that may be intimidating
to Indian students... The use of the [Indian] imagery and traditions, no matter how
popular, should end when they are offensive..
American Anthropological Association,
In a survey by Indian Country Today, 81 percent of respondents indicated use of American
Indian names, symbols and mascots are predominantly offensive and deeply disparaging to
Native Americans... seventy-five percent of respondents also believe use of American Indian
names, symbols and mascots at non-Indian schools, colleges and universities should be in
violation of anti-discrimination laws.
Report on use of American Indian Mascots, 10/2002:
We, the members of the American Anthropological Association, call upon all educators and
administrators of educational institutions to stop promoting the stereotypical representation
of American Indian people through the use of sports mascots. The persistence of such
officially sanctioned, stereotypical presentations humiliates American Indian people,
trivializes the scholarship of anthropologists, undermines the learning environment for
all students, and seriously compromises efforts to promote diversity on school and college
The Association further chose to "cease to schedule
Annual Meetings in the state of Illinois until such time as the administration and
trustees of the University ...
replace their 'Chief Illiniwek' symbol."
Modern Language Association -
Resolution on Mascots and Symbols, 6/2001:
In acknowledgment of today's diverse society, the global expansion of higher education,
and the NCAA Constitution that supports the honor and dignity of all persons; the
committee believes when American Indians are used as a mascot, harmful stereotypes may
result... the MOIC believes that institutions using American Indian mascots, nicknames and
logos should review the depiction of and behavior associated with the use...
Further, those aspects that are
offensive should be eliminated to ensure that the NCAA's principles of cultural diversity
and gender equity, sportsmanship and ethical conduct and nondiscrimination are adhered to
during all athletic events.
Further information on this report, from the 2003 NCAA Convention, may be
American Counseling Association -
Resolution Opposing Use of Stereotypical Native
American Images as Sports Symbols and Mascots, 12/2/01:
...educational institutions' use of these mascots and symbols can undermine their mission
to educate students about the histories, cultures, and achievements of people of color...
Therefore, be it resolved that the MLA condemns the use of representations of native peoples
and other racial and ethnic groups and their cultural traditions as sports mascots or symbols.
Roger Ebert on Chief Illiniwek, 3/15/01:
Therefore, Be It Resolved, That the American Counseling Association disseminate educational
materials highlighting the negative consequences of the use of stereotypical Native American
images; and ... encourage its members to work toward elimination of stereotypical Native
American images in institutions where they are employed.
Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication -
Resolution Opposing Native American Nicknames and Mascots, 8/01:
The Chief for me goes back to childhood ... But ...
I must listen again at what Native Americans are saying, and they are saying they feel
wounded and dismayed by this depiction of their culture. If that is how they feel, then
I must respect them, just as white Southerners must rethink their childhood feelings about
the Confederate flag. It is time to move on.
United Methodist Church News Service -
Rev. Alvin Deer, 3/9/01:
The Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication condemns the use of
Native American nicknames and mascots by non-Native schools and professional teams and
calls upon its members and associates to do whatever they can to end such use.
Copley News Service:
A child once asked me why Indians were "mean." Where did he get that idea?
By schools such as the University of Illinois "honoring" my ancestors?
... The Chief Illiniwek mascot issue in Champaign, Ill., is not an isolated one.
It is nationwide.
Chronicle of Higher Education, 3/23/01,
"Controversy grows over Urbana-Champaign's Mascot"
Is it really worth the fight for the right to hang one's head in reverence as a white college
kid dances around a stadium?
The "push to get rid of the chief" [Illiniwek] is "the latest step in one of the country's
most heated mascot controversies."
Let's do the right thing ...
Retire the Chief