Updated: Peoria tribe leader doesn't back Chief return

Updated: Peoria tribe leader doesn't back Chief return

CHAMPAIGN — The head of the Peoria tribe says he doesn't support a proposal from former Chief Illiniwek portrayers to bring back the Chief in a limited way, because the idea lacks the University of Illinois' backing.

"Without endorsement of the university, the tribe is not willing to participate," said John Froman, chief of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma on Tuesday morning.

Froman, who has been chief of the 3,000-member tribe since 2001, said he has informed former Chief portrayers that "this is purely a University of Illinois decision, that if the university was supportive, the tribe would be willing to have some discussions."

Members of the Council of Chiefs, a group of UI alumni who once danced to the "Three-In-One" music in front of Illini fans, have submitted a plan to campus leaders that asks for the university to restore parts of the tradition. It calls for twice-a-year, on-field appearances, for a two-year trial basis.

Froman said the new portrayal was described to him by the Council of Chiefs as "one that would be a respectful portrayal of the Peoria culture and obviously it was not the previous Chief. The previous Chief was not in any way representative of Peoria culture," he said, adding that the Peoria and Illini confederacy were Woodland Indians, not Plains Indians and the Chief's outfit was representative of a Plains Indian.

"Bringing back the Chief is not a way of respecting the Native American culture," Froman said.

The Council of Chiefs proposal calls for a Chief portrayer to appear on the field of two campus events in a year. There would be no dancing involved, and the costume would be developed by the group in consultation with the Peoria Tribe, according to the group.

"We felt the tradition still had value to alumni, students and the community," said Steve Raquel, president of the Council of Chiefs, which has trained university students in aspects of the tradition despite the university's official retirement of Chief Illiniwek six years ago.

"We've been working to come up with something that made sense, something that we felt was a win-win for the university, for alumni and for students," Raquel said.

He called the proposal a "three-legged-stool" and said it's contingent on the group receiving the tribe's approval, not to mention the university's.

But Froman pointed out Tuesday, "two legs are out."

Wise said she told Council of Chiefs members, with whom she met in April, she would not endorse a return of the Chief to any university-sponsored event. She has said Chief Illiniwek is part of the school's history, not its future.

"I'm seeking to find ways that we can memorialize and respect the (UI's) past history and culture that included the Chief while we focus on the future. And bringing back the Chief is not in the future," she told The News-Gazette.

The UI Board of Trustees officially voted in March 2007 to end Chief Illiniwek's dance and the use of the Chief or any Native American imagery for the university or its athletic programs. The NCAA had previously prohibited the UI from hosting postseason tournaments as long as it used Native American imagery.

Schools can use Native American imagery if they have the tribe's OK, as with the case of Florida State University's relationship with the Seminole tribe.

Raquel said the group was not seeking to restore Chief Illiniwek's status as the official symbol of the university but it wanted to "bring him back to the field."

Froman said there has been no vote by its membership on the proposal.

"My discussion with Chancellor Wise has focused on education of students on what is a true representation of Native cultures," he said, adding that he supports her work on ensuring that all cultures are respected on college campuses.

"We will continue working with Chancellor Wise. We have great respect for her primary focus on where the university is going in the future, and not in the past," Froman said.

Wise traveled to Oklahoma earlier this spring to meet with tribal members, including Froman, to talk about establishing a better relationship with the tribe and how that could lead to greater success of students from the tribe coming to the UI, she said. Wise said the tribe's goals of education and bettering the environment overlap with those of the university.

"What I would like to do is ... work together on a regular basis instead of a sporadic basis," said Wise, who said she envisions an annual summit with UI and Peoria officials. She wants to see more effort in scholarships, mentoring and advising programs for students who come to Illinois from the Peoria tribe or other Native American tribes.

Wise also said she welcomes advice and support from the Council of Chiefs in that area. As part of its proposal, the council said it could raise money, perhaps up to $200,000 a year, for both the university and tribe.

Later this month, Wise said, she and other members of her staff will visit with officials from Miami University to learn about its Myaamia Center, a joint project by the university and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma.

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spangwurfelt wrote on May 07, 2013 at 7:05 am

Ohhhhh, *give* it *up* already. The Chief is gone. The world has outgrown him.

Orbiter wrote on May 07, 2013 at 11:05 am

Yes, it's time to move beyond such stereotypes and mis-representations of history. The status of "tradition" is no excuse for retaining this inappropriate icon.

EL YATIRI wrote on May 10, 2013 at 9:05 am
Profile Picture

and the beat goes on

Bheller wrote on May 07, 2013 at 1:05 pm


Growth generally means a consensus has been reached and worked out.  Many times, something is learned.  I have yet to see any on the "opposing" side offer any concessions, nor compromises.  Yet, supporters offer all we can. 

Save capitulation.



spangwurfelt wrote on May 07, 2013 at 5:05 pm

"Growth generally means a consensus has been reached and worked out."

That's a very narrow definition indeed.

There are still those who think Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 SCOTUS decision legalizing interracial marriage, was decided incorrectly. Should we be trying to reach a consensus with them? No - because they didn't spend the next five years fantasizing about somehow overthrowing the decision.

Really. Reality is calling you. The Chief is an embarrassment. Trying to ressurrect him is an embarrassment. Move on.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on May 07, 2013 at 8:05 am

The NG reports that the Peoria said their 'consideration' is contingent on the university's endorsement. The council of former chief wahoos says the Peoria's approval is necessary but tries to do an end run and get the university to say okay. This leads then, in their world, to the Peoria embracing the boy scout acrobatics antics of a student dressed in full Sioux regalia (which is like having St Paddy dressed in lederhosen), which leads to the resoration of The Way Things Used to Be.

Seems a but shady.

Besides, with a full slate of dances at Hoopston High and other local high schools, when will the current chief wahoo ever find the time and energy to hold audiences before the university sports fans?

Bheller wrote on May 07, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Mr. Ghost,

Chief Wahoo is an image with a red face, with a feather on his head.  You are "trolling" in this case and it truly is showing your ignorance.  Chief Wahoo is involved with the Cleveland Indians, Not Illinois.  I think you are mistaking the state and argument here..  

Either way, I doubt you are endearing many who are "in the middle" to join your point of view... Not a very reasoned argument.  



mark taylor's ghost wrote on May 07, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Well, we can certainly agree that there's a lot of ignorance on display concerning this issue. The former misdressed and gyrating mascot of the U of I is not substantively different than the Cleveland mascot, hence the generic use of the term.

I suspect that "trolling" (complete with your scare quotes) means someone expressing an opinion you disagree with. At this point, being "in the middle" on this issue is no different than being "in the middle" on the use of black face and minstrel show get up. Further attempts at persuasion are as misguided as they are pointless.

spangwurfelt wrote on May 07, 2013 at 5:05 pm

There's nobody left in the middle on this one. You've either accepted reality or you haven't.

Commonsenseman wrote on May 07, 2013 at 1:05 pm

The Chancellor doesnt represent the views of most students.  How can the Peoria represent the Illini.  The Illini are gone, the Chief is the way they live on.  Stop negotiating with people who have no business dictating anything about this.  Let our school have the Chief back, sue the NCAA  if they discriminate against us.  We respect the Chief.

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 07, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Not enough money in the offer.  Raise the ante, and see what happens.

I knew a family who adopted a baby who was 1/16 Sioux.  The adoption went well until the family was contacted by the tribe's representative.  The family had no idea that the baby's great-great grandmother was Sioux.  However; the tribe had the right to approve, or not, the adoption according to the tribe's representative.  For a mere $10,000 in addition to the family's other adoption costs, the tribe would agree that the adoption could be legal.  The family paid since they already had the baby; and the tribe was satisfied.

Raise the ante from $200,000 to be split between the university, and the tribe to $2,000,000; and see what happens.

jlc wrote on May 07, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I'm curious, "Commonsense": when the leader of a Native American tribe says the Chief is disrespectful to Native Americans, do you not believe what he says, or do you just not care?

Bheller wrote on May 07, 2013 at 2:05 pm

It is not simply A or B, it is also that what is being proposed is different from the past and as the Peoria leader stated, they would be open, should the Univeristy be open, to an evolved tradition.

spangwurfelt wrote on May 07, 2013 at 5:05 pm

And evolved tradition? Here's an idea. How about, instead of face paint that doesn't mean anything at all except that that's the way Webber Borchers used ta do it in the Boy Scouts in the 1930s, we go all the way to full burnt-cork blackface? And instead of a headdress, the Chief can have a banjo and a beat-up top hat. And instead of an Indian costume made by an entirely different tribe, he can have calico pants with lots of patches on it. He can keep the part about having no shoes.

Now, there's authenticity for you.

Move on already.

spangwurfelt wrote on May 07, 2013 at 6:05 pm

"The Chancellor doesnt represent the views of most students."

Ask "most students" whether tuition should be free, and whether the dining halls should server beer.

Orbiter wrote on May 07, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Exactly right, it is not the job of the Chancellor to "represent the view of most students".  It's the Chancellor's job to run the campus.  The Chancellor is neither a "representative" nor an elected official, but rather a hired administrator. It's someone else's job to represent the student viewpoint TO the Chancellor.

myattitude wrote on May 07, 2013 at 1:05 pm

The story backs what I have felt all along about the situation.

The Peoria Tribe is open to supporting the Chief (in a modified mode to more accurately portray the actual Illini Tribe). It is my belief that the Alumni and students would be very supportive of making the Chief an accurate reflection of the true history of Illini Tribes that originally lived in Illinois which would add to the educational mission of the University.

When the Chief was created, authenticity was not likely to have been a factor in creating the Chief and I suspect the knowledge of the Peoria Tribe was limited.

The real problem is the University itself who is afraid to make the changes due to the political forces at play. The NCAA issue is not the main factor.

The real news in this story seems to be that Chancellor Wise actually met and talked with the Peoria Tribe. I am not aware of any other conversations between the Tribe and the University Administration in the past although they might have happened. Perhaps time will allow this situation to change as hurt feelings heal.

vcponsardin wrote on May 07, 2013 at 3:05 pm

The "chief" is a settled issue for the University.  There is no going back, no compromise.  Not only is it an important political and social issue, it would cost the U of I its popular and very lucrative NCAA sports programs--along with bringing further national shame and embarrassment to an institution that has already suffered more than its fair share of humiliation over the last few years.  How in the world would bringing back the "chief" possibly improve the University's image?  The so-called chief supporters are not interested in compromise.  They want their "chief" back.  They want the students to decide.  They want the administration to decide.  They want any group that they can persuade to decide in their favor. They are merely looking for any angle to get their halftime antics restored.  In truth, they don't really want a "chief" that actually looks, dresses and dances like the long-ago extinct Woodland tribe once known as the Illini.  They want their false and cartoonish faux-Plains Indian prancing about doing the splits and touching his toes to fake Indian music in a manner that is not at all unlike the deeply offensive blackfaced minstrels of the last century.  Anything less would not be the "chief" after all. There is no compromise.  There is no going back.  It's over for the chief and his supporters.  We've all moved on--time for the chief supporters to do the same.  Stop embarrassing this great institution any further.

cretis16 wrote on May 07, 2013 at 3:05 pm

The only problem here is the size of the check. Florida State does not have a problem with an Indian on horseback with a spear. It's the size of the check that matters. The Peoria are not the Illini tribe at all....what say should they have? Put a couple of the zeros on the check and the fuzzy notion of honor goes out the windows.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on May 07, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Now that's a perfect representation of the "respect and honor" for First Peoples that wahoo supporters evince.

spangwurfelt wrote on May 07, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Maybe that's the angle the "let's go back to the bad old days" gang should try. Except that, instead of demanding the university pony up, they should to it themselves. C'mon, all you Chief supporters -- how much have  *you* put into the "Let's buy the Peoria off" pot?

mark taylor's ghost wrote on May 07, 2013 at 10:05 pm


yates wrote on May 07, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Just where exactly does this Peoria tribe make camp? Just meet their price and the head will do the two step himself.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on May 07, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Now that's respecting and honoring!

I've set up a fund to buy off these money grubbers. I'll be forthcoming with the details soon.

I'll be counting on you to make one of the first generous donations to buy off these people we say we respect and honor so much.

person wrote on May 07, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Dr. Wise, you are playing with fire to pander to "council of white people who danced around as people of another race in college, which was clearly the highlight of their lives, and who seem incapable of moving on."  I am disappointed. 

Commenter vcponsardin hit the nail on the head--this lingering inanaity makes the UI look simply ridiculous.  Locals who care about this think only of their kitschy "chief" junk and how they want things to be the way they always were.

This world-class research institution is fighting the tide to get the best talent.  That IL is a corrupt, bankrupt state with high taxes is bad enough.  People come here and see this crap and think, "um, no, Michigan/Wisconsin/UNC, etc. is looking better and better."

Do you even have any idea how foolish you make yourselves and the university look to the rest of the country and the world? You look like crackers, in the worst sense of the word.

Your racism is disgusting.  White men DO NOT get to decide what everyone else finds offensive.  You cannot tell an African American that they shouldn't be offended by your joke.  You can't tell a woman she deserved, or at least had it coming to her because she wore a short skirt.  

You don't get to say this honors Native Americans.  They get to say it and you have to listen.  That's the problem here, the entitled whites cannot believe these "uppity" folks are standing in the way of their tradition.

Guess what?  YOU LOSE.  



Mike wrote on May 07, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Holy SMOKES. Who are you replying to?

The Chancellor isn't pandering to anyone--she has already said very clearly that this isn't happening. She's a wonderful person--why on EARTH are you bashing her about this? I'm totally confused. 

If you anti-Chief knuckleheads would shut the hell up and quit fanning the flames, this WILL all go away. The decision has already been made. YEARS ago. Why keep arguing about it? 

I'll repeat--the decision has been made. There's no going back. Both sides need to let it go. My goodness.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on May 08, 2013 at 11:05 am

Key knucklehead? Did you read the article?

Oh, I know. The council of former wahoos is actually an anti chief front group doing black flag operations to make the pro chief knuckleheads look bad?

Is that what you are alleging, you knucklehead?

awilson wrote on May 08, 2013 at 5:05 am

I just want to make a comment to all of the people that keep referring to the University as a great institution that is being embarrassed by the locals need for the Chief.  Think of how embarrassing it is for this great institution to be listed as one of the top party schools in the nation thanks to "Unofficial".  My daughter attends the once great University of Illinois and I am completely embarrassed at how proud her fellow students are about the schools new reputation.  If you want to maintain the schools integrity and are worried about professors deciding to come here, fix that.  Don't worry about a mascot for the sports program.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on May 08, 2013 at 11:05 am

Yeah, why do those anti wahoo outside agitators always have to bring this back into the news?

Why do chief opponents insist on keeping this issue alive instead of just shutting up while the wahooists talk about bringing back the chief?

You are completely justified in blaming the anti chief people for this issue being in the news now. Totally totally rational and not transparent at all. Nope. Not transparent. Not a bit.

STM wrote on May 08, 2013 at 7:05 am

Haven't we been through all this before?


terrapin34 wrote on May 08, 2013 at 8:05 am

A New study by an illinois alum, show that changing mascot/dropping names has no effect on a school's brand equity: 


mankind wrote on May 08, 2013 at 3:05 pm

The chief is a "symbol," all right. To his supporters, his demise is a symbol of political correctness gone too far. Nevermind the symbolism gushing from the practice of dancing white fraternity boys using Native American culture to whip up the crowd at halftime. Nevermind the fact that one after the other, Native Americans have expressed dismay over the fact that their culture is reduced to a counterpoint to Bucky Badger and Sparty and other overstuffed mascots. And don't give me that talk about the Fightin' Irish, or the Dutchmen, or whatever other mascot you point to as evidence of the hypocrisy of banning the chief. According to my history books we did not drive the Fightin' Irish from their homeland and get them hooked on booze and herd the survivors onto useless, God-forsaken plots in the middle of nowhere. And yes, I mean "we" in every sense of the word, because while none of us alive participated in the original offense, we certainly haven't given back the ill-gotten gains. The least we owe these people is respect. If they don't want us to turn them into a halftime show, DON'T DO IT. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 08, 2013 at 4:05 pm

"We" made something out of this country.  Groups both racially, and culturally have been dispossessed throughout mankind's history.  It does not feel good to be on the losing side; but history is full of winners, and losers.  With diversity today, the concept of the Noble Redman has been genetically watered down.  Native Americans do have the right to govern their reservations; but let's not keep up the guilt trip because of something that happened over 130 years ago.  Who dispossessed them?  Was it Italian immigrants?  Polish immigrants?  Chinese immigrants?  Oh... only the descendents of English, Irish, Scot, French, Dutch, and Spanish immigrants should feel guilty?  We are Americans; one group.

You probably forgot that the Potawatimee Tribe of Oklahoma was filing suit against the State of Illinois during George Ryan's tenure as governor because they wanted to build a casino in Kankakee.  They threatened old people in Champaign County who inherited land from their great-great grandfathers with law suits that they were willing to drop in exchange for a casino.  One of the few positive things that Ryan did was to run them out.  I have no intention of giving anyone property that I own because of some foolish guilt trip that others hold. 

The Chief will not be coming back.  Fans, students, and others should be looking forward to a contemporary mascot; or not one at all.

mankind wrote on May 08, 2013 at 10:05 pm

You forgot a category when you divided history into the winners and losers, Sid. There are also the losers who come back to haunt you, from Michael Jordan to post-World War I Germany. Treating the "losers" respectfully is about more than being a bleeding heart. In any case, don't put words in my mouth -- I'm not so foolish and naive to suggest that we start handing back property to the tribes. That will simply never happen in this country. But we can stop turning their image into a halftime act. I think you agree with me on that however. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 09, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Yes, I do agree with you on that.  The Peoria tribe did not inhabit the area surrounding the U of I.  The earliest records indicate that it was the Kickapoo tribe; but they had migrated down from Wisconsin prior to that.  The Potawatimie were inhabiting the area prior to the settlement of Big Grove (Urbana).  The area had Kickapoo, and Potawatimie villages spread along the rivers.  They dressed nothing like the mascot image.  They were culturally different from the Sioux out west.  The whole thing was a sham made up by an elitist college group for entertainment. 

The tradition of having a mascot is becoming obsolete.  There always will be some group offended.  The day of a corporate mascot may be coming.  Think about the revenue to be had with a talking gecko, or a comic representative like Norm.  Name the stadium Khan Field with comic relief at half time.  It is about money now; not obsolete traditions.  The big money is not from the fans.  It is the televised coverage, and corporate adverstisements.  At some point in time, the wearing of images of the Chief on clothing will be banned from the stadium.  It is time to move on.

Tom Napier wrote on May 09, 2013 at 7:05 pm

I have never said those who oppose Chief Illiniwek are wrong.  I do say some of their arguments are flawed, ill informed, superficial, inflammatory, or fabricated, that they frequently misinform, or they flaunt some other agenda that is more of a power trip than concern for Native American dignity.   While I disagree, I haven't said they're wrong.  Until now. 

Commenter vcponsardin states "the 'chief' is a settled issue for the University."  Sorry, that's wrong.  Chancellor Wise was interested enough to meet with Peoria representatives and proposes continued dialog.  And, don't ignore the last two student referenda.  Obviously, the issue is not settled.  He may wish it is, but is isn't.

He says "it would cost the U of I its popular and very lucrative NCAA sports programs."  Again, wrong.  The NCAA would withhold post season play from the UI, but not regularly scheduled events.  This has been emphasized many times to anti-Chiefers who use the NCAA as an excuse, but they repel fact as water off a duck's back.    As for "popular and lucrative,"  perhaps he mistakes UI for Michigan, Ohio State, or Texas. 

He continues "the so-called chief supporters are not interested in compromise."  Sorry, wrong again.  The UI has revised the Chief's persona over the decades in response to Native American's requests and sensitivities.  Obviously, these compromises go unseen by those who refuse to look.  Also, I am a Chief supporter, and I would embrace a compromise satisfactory to all stakeholders.

He professes "in truth they don't really want a 'chief' that actually looks, dresses, and dances like the long-ago extinct Woodland tribe once known as the Illini."  Uh, wrong again.  The article states "There would be no dancing involved and the costume would be developed by the group in consultation with the Peoria Tribe."  What part of "no dancing" or "the costume would be developed ... in consultation with the Peoria Tribe" does he not understand?  Perhaps the red mist of militancy obscures reading of the printed word. 

He repeats "They are merely looking for any angle to get their halftime antics restored" and "They want their false and cartoonish faux-Planes Indian prancing about doing the splits and touching his toes to fake Indian music ..."  Again, the article states "no dancing."  Two more of the same wrongs don't make a right. 

So, vcponsardin wears the collar on being correct (that's baseball lingo for failure to get a base hit over some number of at-bats).  How about issues of logic?

First, he accuses Chief supporters of having no interest in compromise.  Then, he boldly proclaims "There is no compromise."  Must be the red mist talking; it's certainly not logic. 

When preparing his report "The Chief Illiniwek Dialogue" Judge Garippo convened a debate at which Michael Haney of the American Indian Arbitration Institute spoke.  He indicated some middle ground probably could be fashioned.  After being confronted by a group of anti-Chief protesters Mr. Haney indicated there could be no compromise.   So, who is willing and unwilling to compromise?  The UI established Native American House and the American Indian Studies program, as suggested during the dialogue.  Again, who is compromising and who isn't? 

The Council of Chiefs is proposing, in consultation with the Peoria Tribe, a Native American presence at the UI who is not Chief Illiniwek.  The head of the Peoria Tribe is quoted in the article as saying "if the university was supportive, the tribe would be willing to have some discussions."  Who is it advocating "no compromise?"  it's not the Peoria Tribe. 

Finally, vcponsardin attributes shame and embarrassment to the Chief.    Perhaps he has forgotten, or chooses to ignore, the political corruption within which the Chief's retirement was cultivated; NCAA blackmail, clout, disgraced UI Trustees, disgraced UI administrators, unwarranted pressure by the State Senate President (to whom the trustees owed their positions), and open meeting violations, all under the oversight of a governor who is now in jail.   These are events my friends say bring shame and embarrassment to the UI.  And, there's The Next Dance cover-up; now that's embarrassing.  The Hogan/Troyer email scandal and the Law School's admissions data scandal ... well the UI did that all on their own although, someone, someday will attribute them to the Chief too.   

spangwurfelt wrote on May 10, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Reading Tom Napier on the Chief always reminds me of Civil War re-enactors in the former Confederate states, who keep replaying those long-ago battles again and again, hoping that maybe next time, they'll finally whip the yankees.

The Chief is over. So, incidentally, is the Civil War. Time to cowboy up and move on. And that's not "cowboy" as in "cowboy and injuns" the way Webber Borchers used ta do it in the Boy Scouts in those days between the wars, and which he later drew on when creating the Indian caricature "chief."

But again, I'm intrigued at the idea of bringing back the Chief for historical reasons. We could make it a three-some - we could have someone recreate Eddie Cantor doing a blackface number, and we could have someone else recreate Warner Oland in oriental make up for his "Charlie Chan" mystery movies. And as a chorus there could be a whole squad of dancing white boys pretending to be Puerto Ricans with switchblades as if it were "West Side Story." The Chief would fit in quite well in company like that.

Tom Napier wrote on May 10, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Have you ever been to a Civil War re-enactment?  The participants are not actors, as you say, but history enthusiasts of all occupations, trying to bring some element of historic context to our contemporary experience.  And, as a matter of accuracy, they're not from former Confederate states, as you say, but are from all over.  My wife's nephew is a re-enactor.  He was born in Illinois and lives in Ohio (both Union states, as I recall) and he represents an Ohio unit.  The camping is (or should be, if it's a credible re-enactment) authentic; canvas tents (if any), no Coleman stoves, no GorTex underwear, no Jimmy Johns delivered freaky fast.  The re-enactments follow the documented course of battle with no expectation that the conclusion will be any but what actually occurred.  Maybe researching Civil War re-enactments a little will offer a whole new perspective.  Or maybe less melodrama in your analogies would boost your credibility. 

I am fairly knowledgeable about Civil War history, but don't especially favor the idea of re-enactments.  That said, I do see some merit in them.  I happened to be in Washington DC's Union Station immediately prior to a re-enactment in Manassas (or Bull Run to us Yankees).  Re-enactors poured through the station, armed, with their campaign gear, much as they must have arrived at train stations in Maryland and Virginia prior to July 21st 1861.  I did feel a chill watching this "Union Army" mustering and marching off to Fairfax County.   I did get some appreciation by witnessing the thousands of "soldiers" beginning their journey toward an uncertain and ultimately terrible future.  I understand they retreated, in character, back through Union Station after the battle.  I wish I could have seen that.  If it was as authentic as I understand was intended, the contrast between advancing and retreating would have been educational beyond anything we've ever read in textbooks, even though it was a re-enactment.  Hmmm, education, what a concept!    

Now, please read this carefully, as it appears rebuttals by Chief opponents very often ignore what was previously written.  I do not favor Civil War re-enactments.  I do see some merit in them.  In other words, I do see merit in something with which I basically disagree.  I other words I can see two sides to an argument.  A balanced perspective, what a concept!  Furthermore, even though I do not especially like Civil War re-enactments, I don't crusade against them or assault their proponents with insults.  Tolerance of others' opinions, what a concept!

About moving on ...  I believe the proposal to create a Native American presence, one accurate to this region, and agreeable to the decendants of this region's early inhabitants, one who is NOT the Chief of the past (read the article), is indeed moving on.  They're not trying to resurrect him but are trying to find a resolution that all stakeholders will find appropriate (again, read the article).  It's certainly a more thoughtful, constructive, and progressive effort than issuing forth the same old militant dogma year after year. 

San Diego State University created their Aztec Warrior to replace Monty, based on scholarly study of Mesoamerican culture and collaboration throughout the university community, Native Americans included. The only reason this won't happen at the University of Illinois is that a small but militant and exceptionally vocal fringe won't tolerate a change in the status quo now that they've "won," as they say, and The Powers That Be in the UI administration are afraid of them.  Destroying institutions is easier than changing them.  To construct again requires ideals and a vision for the future.  Tired rants about blackface, Charlie Chan, Natalie Wood, dancing white fraternity boys, Boy Scouts, interracial marriage, and all manner of irrelevant jabber contribute nothing.  Maybe chanting hey-hey, ho-ho is self gratifying to some, but it accomplishes nothing toward solving a problem. 

Don't like it?  Propose a better approach.  Maybe it'll fly or maybe it won't.  But it's more constructive than the current All-Complaint-And-No-Action strategy.  Or, as you say, time to cowboy up.

Then, if you would like to respond to what I've actually written in my comment (# 36 for those keeping score, or this one) I'd be interested in reading what you have to say.

Have a Grateful Day.

spangwurfelt wrote on May 11, 2013 at 8:05 am

The thing to notice here, admittedly not easy to see amid Tom's excess verbiage and self-pity, is what's missing from his call to ditch Chief Plan-A in order to create a Chief Plan-B. Chief Plan-B, we're told, will be *different* than Chief Plan-A: he won't be a racist caricature based on 1930's stereotypes of what an Injun Savage does and dancing to 1930's stereotypes of what Injun Savage music sounds like.

Well, gee, Tom, you've finally caught up with the 21st century, then, if you've come to recognize that Chief Plan-A is too racist a caricature to continue. All that's missing now is the part where you actually admit that you were wrong all along on that very topic, and that you owe the Native American tribes a big apology.

Raise your hand if you think that's got the slightest chance of happening, folks. He's too busy calling people who object to racism "intolerant."


mark taylor's ghost wrote on May 11, 2013 at 9:05 am

You don't tolerate my intolerance so you are, ipso facto, intolerant and a hypocrite.


Mwahahahaha (I've caught you in my fiendishly clever trap of logic and reason...)

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 11, 2013 at 9:05 am

Maybe, the Peoria tribe is the wrong tribe to be negotiating with over the matter.  It seems that the negotiations should be with the Wantabee tribe.  They still live in the area; and appear to claim ownership.

spangwurfelt wrote on May 11, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Yep. Chief Whiteboy-Wannawek, of the Dupagelakewill Tribe.

Tom Napier wrote on May 13, 2013 at 9:05 pm

You’re entitled to your own interpretations or fabrications about what I’ve written, but please present them as your opinion, not mine.

I’ll be direct.

a)  I am no more a racist than you are. 

b)  I’ve never advocated the Chief return to dancing at halftime.

c)   I’m not “ditching” Chief Illiniwek as you say, nor am I advocating he be “ditched.”

d)  You’re entitled to express your opinion and I’m entitled to express my opinion.  Neither you nor I possesses a divine insight into Truth and Right.

You can quit here if you’d like, or you can continue with my “excess verbiage.”

It may surprise, and possibly disappoint you, but I too object to racism.  Remember, you, and other Chief opponents, do not hold exclusive rights to anti-racist sentiments.  I have never perceived Native Americans (or any other racial or demographic group) to be inferior as a race to us White Europeans, which is the definition of racism.   In fact, you’re stereotyping me as a racist, or as a minimum, that I support racism.  I thought stereotyping people was something you vehemently opposed.  Do you know how many HBCU students I’ve mentored at work?  How many minority Little Leaguers I’ve coached?   Do my minority co-workers, teammates, and friends think I’m a racist?  Maybe you’d better consider these questions before stereotyping people.

I’ve never perceived the Chief to be racist or stereotypical of Native Americans, and I still don’t.  I have found no reason to think differently based on your, and other similar responses to this article. Many thousands within the University of Illinois community do not perceive the Chief as racist or dishonorable, Native Americans included, as evidenced by the commentary accompanying recent petitions and referenda concerning the Chief and the Three-in-One.  Why not call those Native Americans, or the current Chief Illiniwek, racist?  If you or and other commenters want to refer to The Real World or The Twenty-first Century, perhaps you should review this commentary.  If you think we’re all “wrong,” as you say, you’re entitled to that opinion.  However, I, and thousands of others, are equally entitled to an opinion that differs from yours.

Yes, I do understand there are Native American sensitivities.  No, I don’t think totally rejecting any and all Native American references is appropriate or constructive.  I think the proposal for a Native American representation presents an opportunity to view our region’s Native American heritage in a positive and correct light.  If a Native American figure is culturally appropriate and presented with respect, and if the Peoria Tribe is agreeable (to which THEY are open – read the article), that would be an improvement for the benefit of all.  No, I’m not uncomfortable with the traditional Chief.   I  do think an appropriate representation (as defined by the Peoria Tribe and/or other Native interests) is an even better representation for the University of Illinois -- just as the Aztec Warrior is a better representation for San Diego State University than Monty was.

You complain the Chief’s dance is inauthentic.  So there will be no dance.  You still complain.

 You complain the regalia are inauthentic.  Historically accurate and regionally appropriate dress will be researched and worn.  You still complain. 

You complain Native Americans were excluded from the Chief Illiniwek tradition.  The Peoria Tribe was consulted and is agreeable (again, read the article).  You still complain. 

You complain us White Guys are ignorant of Native American culture.  The proposal includes educational opportunities.  You still complain. 

While you may see this as another just another assault on your own sensitivities, I see it as an opportunity to inform.  What’s so “wrong” about that?  

I think stonewalling an appropriate representation of Central Illinois Native Americans does a great disservice to the very cause you say you're promoting.  Why shouldn't this be an opportunity for enlightenment and education?  I can't help but think this resistance is born out of a lust for influence more than respect for Native Americans.  You and other commenters seem to enjoy saying "WE WON AND YOU LOST."  If that's your attitude, then we've both lost.  Again, the militant rhetoric contributes nothing to your credibility.

My experience tells me there are relatively few absolutes.  Issues are rarely good or bad, right or wrong period.  I’ve observed that those who cling doggedly to one position or opinion, and doggedly refuse to consider any alternatives, are usually more concerned about being “right” and proving the other party “wrong” than they are about the issue at hand.  Chancellor Wise made the following remarks when addressing the Class of 2013 Sunday that directly apply to our discussion:

“I hope you have learned that by asking questions, opening debate, and encouraging discussion, that these are three of the most powerful tools in the world.  No issue, trivial or great can be resolved if you’re afraid to talk about it.”

I'd like to talk about the issue.  How ‘bout you?

spangwurfelt wrote on May 17, 2013 at 3:05 pm

tl;dr — was there a point you were trying to make?

Remember, brevity is the soul of wit.

kfzmeister wrote on May 14, 2013 at 9:05 am

If Illini means Illinois Confederation and is made up of the Kaskaskia, the Cahokia, the Peoria, the Tamaroa, Moingwena, Michigamea, Albiui, Amonoko, Chepoussa, Chinkoa, Coiracoentanon, Espeminkia, Maroa, Matchinkoa, Michibousa, Negawichi, and Tapouara, why are we going to only the Peoria tribe?

Is Froman representative of all these tribes??