Education| Opinion

Novak: 'Chief Illiniwek' honored Native people



"Only a small minority of Native Americans is shown by polls to oppose Indian nicknames in sports. The campaign against them gained momentum only when the NCAA, which can hardly cope with policing athlete misconduct and illegal payments in college sports, crusaded against dozens of colleges in the name of political correctness. The NCAA, under President Myles Brand, labeled Chief Illiniwek one of the 'hostile and abusive racial/ethnic/national origin mascots.

But the Chief is no mascot (the university calls him a symbol). The big-headed depiction of the father of this country at George Washington University, the turtle representing the University of Maryland and the Demon Deacon for Wake Forest are mascots. Such college mascots are comical figures who engage in sham battles with each other and go into the stands to hug children. Chief Illiniwek did not. He was always austere and dignified.

The accusation that Illinois and other schools degrade Native Americans is absurd. These schools picked Indian symbols in admiration of their valor, ferociousness and indomitable spirit in the face of overwhelming odds. Native Americans were honored in naming states. Illinois is Algonquin for 'tribe of superior men.' Indiana means the 'land of the Indians.'"

Get the Story:
Robert D. Novak: Death of the Chief (The Washington Post 2/22)
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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

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