Editorial: It's time to put 'Chief Illiniwek' to rest

"Much like the Chief is a symbol for the University, the controversy surrounding his image has come to represent the administration's inability to act unless their hand is forced by a third party. Now that it has been forced, the time has come for closure.

No matter where any of us fall on the debate, Chief Illiniwek as we know him is all but dead. As such, we see no compelling reason to put the issue off any longer. With each passing day, the distraction grows larger and the problem more serious.

The Oglala Sioux tribe's recent request that the University return the regalia undermines the validity of the pro-Chief argument. If the University were to refuse the request, pro-Chief advocates could no longer claim that the Chief honors the American Indian tradition. If the University were to acquiesce, then the Chief would truly become a white man made up like an Indian.

Chief Illiniwek symbolized the honor and integrity of the school for more than 80 years. He has represented the academic and athletic achievement of the University, performing at football, basketball and volleyball games in buckskin regalia adorned with a headdress.

The current portrayal of the Chief began with Gary Smith, former director of the Marching Illini, who purchased the regalia in 1982 for $3,500 from Frank Fools Crow, an Oglala Sioux tribe member. The regalia included moccasins, a tunic, breastplate, leggings, peace pipe pouch and a war bonnet adorned with eagle feathers. Last Wednesday, the tribe's five-member executive committee adopted a resolution by a 3-0 vote demanding the University return the feathers and regalia. Despite the confusion about the exact whereabouts of the various pieces of the Chief's dress, the important fact remains that the Oglala Sioux Tribe, with whom the Chief has been closely linked, has demanded that the University cease their use of Chief Illiniwek."

Get the Story:
Editorial: The Chief should finally rest in peace (The Daily Illini 1/24)

NCAA Update:
Status of Indian Mascot Policy (April 28, 2006)

NCAA Executive Committee Decision:
Native American Mascot Appeals Decisions (April 28, 2006)

NCAA Policy on Indian Mascots:
NCAA Executive Committee Issues Guidelines for Use of Native American Mascots at Championship Events (August 5, 2005)

Relevant Links:
Chief Illiniwek, University of Illinois - http://www.uiuc.edu/dialogue/index.html
Retire the Chief - http://www.retirethechief.org

Related Stories:
School says 'Chief Illiniwek' headdress was returned (1/22)
Oglala Sioux Tribe denounces 'Chief Illiniwek' (1/19)
Oglala Sioux Tribe seeks return of 'Chief' regalia (1/18)
Native students threatened over 'Chief Illiniwek' (1/17)
Editorial: Go to court to protect 'Chief Illiniwek' (11/20)
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