U.I. Dialogue Intake Session
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RetireTheChief

The following transcript is from the 4/14/00 Chief Illiniwek dialogue "intake session". It is an unedited excerpt from the original U.I. document.

MR. MICHAEL HANEY: Good morning, Your Honor. My name is Michael Haney, I am the executive director of the American Indian Arbitration Institute. Yes. Thank you. I have been asked to represent the 478 tribes in the United States.

MODERATOR GARIPPO: I appreciate it. If you just make this part of the record. It's very distracting to have it held there. So if you will just roll it up and make it part of the record.

MR. HANEY: Yes, sir, I will be glad to give you copies of that.

MODERATOR GARIPPO: All right. Thank you.

MR. HANEY: Show the audience what he is objecting to there. Actually it's a list of tribes, federally recognized tribes in the United States, 478 of them, that are going on record and saying that they want Chief Illiniwek to be abolished. They think it's racist, it encourages racial stereotyping.

MODERATOR GARIPPO: Mr. Haney.

MR. HANEY: Thank you very much. We will put that way. Your Honor, I would like to introduce, before I begin my talk, a group of Philadelphia tribal members that traveled all the way from Philadelphia, Mississippi, all night long to be here. They just came to say that they support our efforts to abolish Native imagery and protect Native culture everywhere. I really thank them for coming. We have people from all over the United States this morning, Your Honor, that have come to join with us in this effort to protect the future of our children.

I would like to make an announcement to the press and perhaps to the Board of Trustees, good morning to the Board. Is that I have heard often about the Peoria tribe that you say that the Illiniwek has its support in Oklahoma from the Peoria tribe. Chief John Miles had made a video approximately five or six years ago, saying he didn't have an objection. He didn't see a lot of the dances and some of the antics that went on. And that's been used by the various Chiefs and the other organizations that support racism here in the University of Illinois, what they call pro-Chief people.

I find that very amusing in the sense that we are chief of the highest office that we have within our culture just by the very fact they are saying they are pro-Chief, they are pro- Indians, in the fact that they are diametrically opposed to actions of Native growth within this institution.

But what I would like to announce to the media is that last Wednesday, April 4 of year 2000, the Peoria tribe has joined with every other tribe in America, make it unanimous, there is no tribe in the United States that supports the University of Illinois. I would like to read this.

The Peoria tribe of Indians of Oklahoma request the University of Illinois to cease the use of Chief Illiniwek as a mascot.

Whereas, the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma is a federally recognized tribe of Indians;

Whereas, the Business Committee of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma is authorized to enact resolutions and act on behalf of the Peoria tribe;

Whereas the Peoria tribe of Indians are descendants of the Kaskaskia, Peoria, Piankeshaw and Wea Tribes, a group of tribes known as Illiniwek, or Illini or Illinois nations, whose members were removed from their homes and forced to move first move to Missouri, then to Kansas and finally to the northeastern part of the Indian Territory now Oklahoma;

And whereas, the image portrayed by Chief Illiniwek does not accurately represent or honor the heritage of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma and it is a degrading racial stereotype, degrading racial stereotype that reflects negatively on all American Indian people;

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Peoria Tribe of Indians does not endorse nor sanction the characterization of Chief Illiniwek as a mascot for the University of Illinois, and be it finally resolved the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma request the leadership, Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois to recognize the demeaning nature of the characterization of Chief Illiniwek and cease the use of this mascot.

How about that? Your Honor, we have a message from the Chief. The General Secretary of the tribe said, "I find the Chief Illiniwek hurtful and I think is a stereotypical, demeaning and dehumanizing."

The new chief of the Peoria Tribe says, "My personal opinion is that the Chief Illiniwek is a clown." Where did that former clown go? I mean former Chief Illiniwek. "My personal opinion is that Chief Illiniwek is a clown. I have never seen any Indian dance like that and I have been to quite a lot of Indian dances on this 50 years in this little planet. They want to call him Illiniwek, if he wants to look like an Illini," this is an Illini speaking now, "Then we need to take of all of his clothes except for an apron and we need to tatoo him from his head to his toes to make him historically correct and then we will see how many folks line up to be Chief Illiniwek." All right?

I further would like to say, "I don't know what the origination or reason was for the University to create Chief Illiniwek. I don't think it was to honor us, because hell, they ran our butts out of Illinois." This is the Chief talking. All right?

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. 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.

I represent all those Native people that are opposed to what is going on here. We want this to cease. We will keep coming, we will keep coming and we will keep coming until this is over. Until you change that racist symbol, we will never give up until the institution finally recognizes that we are human people too, that we do have feelings. And I guarantee you that the American Indian movement, I guarantee that the Choctaw nation, I guarantee you that the people of St. Louis and the people of Chicago, will not cease until Chief Illiniwek is dead.

What I think is conspicuous is that there are no, that 95 percent of all faculty are not here, there are no religious organizations here. There are no politicians here to stand behind you. I think you are all jumping off this ship. My time is up. I want to thank you, Your Honor. I want to encourage the Board of Trustees to eliminate Chief Illiniwek and call off what I consider the longest undeclared war in history, that's the war against the American Indians here in our own homeland.

MODERATOR GARIPPO: Mr. Haney, first I want to thank you and Miss Ostrovsky and Mr. Wakeland for assisting me in identifying the groups here. When you were in my office the other day, you indicated to me that there is some middle ground here. And I asked you if you would present that, present your proposal today.

Now, you didn't do it during your address, but I am going to give you extra time now to address the issue of where do you think a middle ground might be?

MR. HANEY: Sir, I accept the sentiments of the organization called the Red Roots, the Native organization led by Debbie Reese that talked about establishing a Native American studies department. I firmly support the establishment and endowment of a Native American studies chair. I also would like to encourage a scholarship fund be implemented to perhaps maybe fund, through the merchandising of the images that the University finds so successful marketing our image. We also, we have, we have children that would love to come to this University. We would identify those. I chair my education committee back home. I would love to send my gifted and talented people here.

You develop, we would offer our resources, offer the consultation of our educational officers to help develop a comprehensive education improvement program. We also would encourage the development of course work and the aggressive improvement of Native students. We would join with that if there was a dialogue we can talk, because we have never sat down and talked before, sir. We are standing ready to put our minds and our resources together to come to a conclusion that everyone wants here.

MODERATOR GARIPPO: As I understand you and Miss Reese, then the Chief could stay, that the -- if you got these other things that you asked for, the Chief could stay and it would be then through the educational process that over time you would feel that the Chief would die as a result of greater educational opportunities on the campus, is that correct?

MR. HANEY: Yes, sir. We realize it's been 500 years. We realize that the University is a slow learner. But yes, we think they will come to that conclusion.

MODERATOR GARIPPO: Thank you very much.

MR. HANEY: I would like to finally, I would like to ask, they talk about the headdress that was given by Chief Fools Crow. Sir, I am a Dakota, we would like to have that returned to our nation. Thank you.

MODERATOR GARIPPO: Thank you. Hank Hanneken.

See the U.I. Dialogue on Chief Illiniwek page for more transcripts and information.

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