'Three-in-One': The song remains the same

'Three-in-One': The song remains the same

The chief local critic of many Illini fans' most cherished symbol says it's not enough that Chief Illiniwek has been banished.

The "Three-in-One" — which thousands have risen to their feet, crossed their arms, stomped and shouted for at the 247 home men's basketball and football games since the Chief's official ouster — must go, too.

"Juicing up the crowds to chant 'Chief!' is no different than encouraging the chanting of other racial epithets," says University of Illinois emeritus professor Stephen Kaufman.

To which a legion of season-ticket holders, band members and commenters at news-gazette.com say: Come on, Professor.

"The song has nothing to do with the Chief, despite him being previously associated with (it)," says Michelle Nickrent, a junior trombone player in the Marching Illini. "The 'Three-in-One' means a lot to me because it embodies pride and loyalty for the university. It's frustrating because despite the connection being there, it isn't the Chief's music."

The argument's not a new one: It's been a source of conflict since Chief Illiniwek's last dance in 2007. But Kaufman revived the debate last week when he issued a public ultimatum to Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson at a town hall-style faculty meeting:

End the performance of the "Three-in-One" or he would go to the NCAA, AAUP and other outside agencies.

Wilson declined.

Kaufman: It's like 'Dixie'

Because the "Three-in-One" consists of many parts, it's debatable what constituted the beginning of the tradition.

This much is clear: The "Illini" formation the band stands in was implemented in the early 1920s. Chief Illiniwek came later — he first performed in 1926 to some version of the medley that's still performed today.

The musical aspect is less clear. The "Three-in-One" is a medley of "March of the Illini," "Pride of the Illini" and "Hail to the Orange."

The Marching Illini's own official history states: "'Pride of the Illini,' written by Karl King expressly for the Illinois Bands, was published in 1928. Harry Alford's 'March of the Illini' was also published in 1928, but was used during Chief Illiniwek's performance from the beginning in 1926. The three pieces were eventually combined into a medley and given the title, "Three-In-One.'"

Together, the three songs are inextricably linked to Chief Illiniwek, even if they existed pre-Chief, Kaufman argues.

"The Confederate flag and Dixie preceded the Civil War, black-face preceded the civil rights movement, and the swastika preceded Nazi Germany," Kaufman says. "None of these symbols could be justified, nor would they be tolerated today as part of halftime sports entertainment at a public university."

Even on its own, "March of the Illini" is controversial.

Bruno Nettl, another emeritus professor and ethnomusicologist, cited a letter he wrote to then-Chancellor Richard Herman about the song.

Nettl explained that people "perceive this music as Native American-derived and thus think 'primitive and simple-minded music' and thus also 'primitive and simple-minded people.'"

The continued use of the music reminds people of the Chief and, like the Chief, miseducates fans about Native Americans, he argues.

"It's my impression that the 'March of the Illini' is a continuing reminder of the absent Chief, and its continued performance will not bring about the desired closure, but rather irritate an open wound," he wrote.

'The ghost still dances'

Many fans say they associate the "Three-in-One" with honor and respect for Native Americans. Just as they do the Chief.

"The traditions of the Chief were high-minded and moralistic. It was never meant to demean Native Americans or put them down in any way. It was meant to honor them. It was always respectful. It was always done in good taste," says Charlie Finn, a longtime Chief supporter and former student manager for the UI's football team in the 1950s.

Eric Schacht used to think that way, too. Growing up in Champaign, he had a deep, inherited love for all things Illini, especially the Chief. As a young boy, he had Chief music recorded on cassette tapes, owned a Chief costume and would even occasionally attempt to emulate the dance. Watching the Chief performance live at Illini games used to give him goose bumps — "And I confess that sometimes it still does," he says — but it wasn't until he saw the documentary, "In Whose Honor," that "those goose bumps became overtaken by chills."

After viewing the film, written and produced by UI professor and Chief opponent Jay Rosenstein, Schacht began to side with the opposition's arguments against the deep-rooted harm that occurs when Native American imagery is misappropriated and exploited in athletics, he says.

Today, he no longer supports the Chief. No matter when the song was written, Schacht said, the ties between the Chief and "Three-in-One" are unmistakable.

"I have not yet met or read of anyone arguing for this musical tradition to continue who doesn't also argue for the return of the Chief," says Schacht, who has relatives who are members of the Comanche, Apache, Hopi and Tlingit tribes. "This is not something that can be brushed off as political correctness — this is historical and actual correctness.

"We need to move on from this issue to become healed and whole as a community and as a university. Banning the Chief has not done that — the ghost still dances on in the music and on the clothes of those who attend the games. It doesn't matter when the music was written, or whether the Chief or the music came first. It became one and the same with the Chief, and still is."

'I think it's ridiculous'

While officially the former Illini symbol has been extinct for eight years, the Council of Chiefs does everything it can to keep the spirit alive. That includes still appointing an unofficial Chief, now portrayed by Ivan Dozier, the son of a Native American father and white mother.

A Monticello native, Dozier was selected by the council in 2010 to be the 38th portrayer of Chief Illiniwek. With plans to pass the baton when he completes grad school this spring, Dozier describes the past five years as nothing short of an incredible honor.

"When I do unofficial appearances, people often cry tears of joy," he says. "I've had veterans salute me, cancer patients tell me they got out of bed that day to see me. People have even requested appearances by the Chief at their funeral. It touches people on a respectful level."

Dozier says the main reason he wants to keep the Chief alive is because of the interest it has sparked across the community in learning more about his culture. When he learned of the renewed controversy, this time over music, he says he was almost amused.

"Frankly, I think it's ridiculous. It almost sounds like cartoonish villainism to set out to ban a song," Dozier says. "The song holds a special place in our school and marching band history. The Marching Illini is a premier marching band, so you're not just robbing the tradition of the university, you're robbing the tradition of the marching band, too."

Kara Cochran, an Illini fan from birth, has about had her fill from the anti-Chief crowd. She wonders: Wasn't losing the symbol she grew up watching enough?

"I say the Chief was taken from the fan base," she says. "Let's see a little goodwill from the anti-Chief supporters in letting us keep the remaining long-standing tradition of the 'Three-in-One.'"

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Schocked wrote on November 01, 2015 at 10:11 am

While I appreciated the opportunity to voice my opinion on the Chief issue generally, and the 3-in-1 specifically, I take issue with some of the paraphrasing and arguments put forth by the News-Gazette in the article.  It trivializes the national condemnation of Illinois' cultural misappropriation and misrepresentation by saying that I sided with "the opposition's arguments".  Portraying the opposition to the Chief as some little fringe minority may be true in Champaign County (or in Central Illinois generally, considering that there is still a Redskins team whose fans collect in "the Reservation" - sad but true), but this ignores the conclusions of large investigations into the ramifications of this use.

First - the NCAA findings that the Chief created “an environment that is demeaning, insensitive, hostile and abusive to Native Americans.”

Second, and most significantly, that of the US Commission on Civil Rights determined back in 2001 that: “Native American mascots are false portrayals that prevent non-Native Americans from understanding the true historical and cultural experiences of American Indians, and encourage biases and prejudices that have a negative effect on contemporary Indian people. These mascots are particularly inappropriate and insensitive in light of the long history of forced assimilation that American Indian people have endured in this country.”

As the article says, I haven't always felt this way.  And in judging my own "love" of the Chief, it felt "honorable" and "respectful" and not at all racist.  But I ultimately realized that it is not my perspective that matters here - but those whose culture and heritage was directly impacted. There was a holocaust in our country - we became the majority because of it - it is our responsibility to listen to the minority and do everything we can to make reparations and allow healing.

Midwest wrote on August 18, 2017 at 4:08 pm

"There was a holocaust in our country - we became the majority because of it - it is our responsibility to listen to the minority and do everything we can to make reparations and allow healing."

Oh please. Are you serious? You support reparations, so you should plan it out in every detail. While you're at it, you should contact the Prime Minister of Spain and express your concern over what happened in Mexico and the Philippines.

Do not force your guilt and your agenda, both which are deluded to begin with, on present day America. America is not responsible for any reparations, whether they're directed towards the Native American or black, and if there's any healing to be involved it's actually moving forward - not looking at the past with shame or guilt that results in posts such as yours.

Concerning the NCAA: if they somehow concluded that the color orange was offensive to those who are colorblind, you'd probably support the ban of the color.

annabellissimo wrote on November 01, 2015 at 1:11 pm

A lot of people claim Native American/American Indian (the self-identified Palestinian-American Steven Salaita's term, and the program to which he applied for employment term, by the way) ancestry when they are making public criticisms of the University of Illinois' association with Chief Illiniwek or anything closely or remotely connected with that image. People can make any claim they want; it doesn't make the claim true. Native American/American Indian actual standing has specific requirements and those were established by the 'Indian' groups/tribes themselves. Like many Americans of all backgrounds with long-term residence on this continent, my family also traces some of its heritage to the Cherokee nation. It is proveable and traceable. So what? It has nothing whatsoever to do with any decisions the University of Illinois makes about Chief Illiniwek and associated issues. When the decision about Chief Illiniwek was being made a few years back, various 'opinion surveys' were reportedly taken among various tribes and claimed representatives of some tribes about 'the Chief', his regalia, etc. Reported opinions on the propriety and use of ‘the Chief’ imagery were mixed. So what? Those who repeatedly try to link this image - and now a song - to Nazis, to the KKK, to Civil War music (good grief!), to whatever other organized violence and brutality was waged against particular, identifiable groups of people are making false and dishonest charges. The image of "the Chief" was never, NOT EVER, in any way similar or even remotely referencing the kinds of cartoon-like demeaning imagery seen of Indians - the hawk-nosed profile with the long braids and the tomahawk and war paint, nor the pathethic blanket-wrapped drunken "Indians" surrounded by empty liquor bottles and cartoon "stars and bubbles" around their heads. Are there/were there "Indians" wearing long braids who used tomahawks and wore face paint? Yes. Are there/where there "Indians" who became alcoholics? Yes, alcoholism and drug addiction and other severe social dysfunctions are rampant among "American Indian" populations. None of that was ever part of the "Chief" imagery. The "Chief opponents" often criticize that the "Chief" was not realistic. Maybe the realism of actual American Indian life would be more appropriate to those opponents. Maybe they would first like to familiarize themselves with it, rather than their false romanticized, idealized "Indian" version so that any "Indian" imagery would be realistic. I doubt it very much! If Kaufman and his ilk were serious about any kind of "shame" associated with American Indian life, rather than just wanting to impose their own selective life-guilt on others, they would take their educations, their time, their money and their "passion" and go live on reservations and teach and work and help. As it is, what they are doing means NOTHING, the "Chief" means NOTHING, what songs are played means NOTHING! And outside of his own circle, Kaufmann and his ilk's opinions of the Chief and any music mean NOTHING. The University of Illinois powers of the time, at the behest of very short-term Chancellor Cantor, did the bidding of the loud voices, the guilt and victim industry that advances their own careers only - and meanwhile, American Indians/Native Americans still live in the same kind of conditions they did when the Chief danced at half-times and Kaufman and his ilk are now railing against the music. What next? The wooden floor of the basketball court? The air that carried the musical notes? The memory of the music, the recollection of the Chief? What next, Kaufman? Washing of all brains, erasure of all memory? The very existence of a similar persona used by a Florida university as their symbol - a Seminole Indian riding a horse with lots of regalia - is not the only example, but a key one, because that symbol is used with the endorsement, blessing and enthusiastic collaboration of whom? The Seminole Indians of Florida. And why? Because they are PAID for it. So apparently the only thing that was missing in the controversy around the Chief was money. Had the University paid "the Illini" money, then all would be well? Of course, there was the problem of there being no "Illini", but representatives of the "Miami" now in Oklahoma did come around during that time, looking at land and properties for reasons that were questioned - some speculated about another case of the rising trend of “Indians” claiming ownership and possibly making demands for payment based on such claims. It was all moot because the short-term Chancellor Nancy Cantor made the decision and moved on to Syracuse, to wreak other divisiveness and dissention on that campus leaving behind a University of Illinois in turmoil over a symbol, not a mascot, and a ton of pomposity. What will always be strange to me are the very notions of "native American" and "ownership" based on that "native" status. The fact is there were no humans on this continent until people migrated and stayed. If the "native Americans" are natives on this continent, then they are also natives of what is now called Siberia which is where DNA evidence is showing their origins to be. If they were natives there, how can they also be natives here. The fact is, ALL "Americans" are immigrants; every one of us came here from somewhere else and that includes the so-called "native Americans." Were they often treated harshly and brutally by the newcomers to this continent? Yes. Did the "Indians" often treat enemy tribes harshly and brutally? Yes. Did the "Indians" often treat the newcomers from other lands harshly and brutally? Yes. This is the ancient and modern story of human migration over the globe: oppression/suppression/domination/exploitation/accommodation/adaptation/change. The notion that “native Americans” were docile, peaceable, pacifists is just sentimental, romanticized nonsense that serves the silly mentalities that need to think such things for their own reasons. Do some modern human populations try to do things differently than those barbaric practices? Some do, and most – probably all – of those “some” who do are the very members of western civilization that the anti-Chief people love to hate. But witness the modern history of ethnic Russians dominating ‘native’ populations of Eastern Europe, of the splits in "Yugoslavia", of the splits in Rwanda, of the splits in Iraq/Turkey, of what is currently happening in Syria and all of Europe - and on and on and on. What can and should be considered racist and cruel and harsh are the kinds of impoverishment, disease and danger that exist in pockets of exploited and ravaged populations all over this country: Appalachia, 'Indian' reservations, 'inner cities', rural poverty, poor, mean, hardscrabble, ugly and sad lives of all kinds, all races and all backgrounds. None of those folks would give a big "f" to the puffed up phony self-stroking pomposity of these "ooooh, I feel so bad about the Chief and that nasty music and so YOU have to stop it!" crowd who are simply vying for the ludicrous role of "I'm a better human being than you because I yell against the Chief and by the way, look at ME! look at ME! Is there a camera and microphone so you can all look at ME! See ME? See how I'm speaking for all "native Americans" and how I'm helping the downtrodden! Did you get my quotes? Did you spell my name right?" Such silly empty puffery. Mr. Kaufman: go and do something real and meaningful. Go and work in Appalachia. Teach there! Tell the Cherokee and their descendents (yes, in large numbers still in Appalachia and the Smokies) what YOU think THEY should think and feel. Go to Oklahoma and teach the "native Americans" there what is right and proper for them. YOU are speaking for them and for all of us but you are doing it from the safe position of a podium, behind a microphone and in front of a camera, speaking to your silly puffed up followers (and you bowing to the rest of the career-advancing like-minded group you take tea with)! What a bunch of self-righteous, self-important hypocrites. Why aren't you stomping your feet about the U.S. military - OF TODAY, HERE AND NOW - and your government's - OF TODAY, HERE AND NOW - invasions of countries with all kinds of "native people" running from bombs and drones, a military that advertises all over the place at all sporting events in the U.S. Why aren’t you standing up and yelling against “ISIS”? Why don’t you go to the Somali enclaves in Minnesota and demand that they stop supporting organized groups in the middle East that brutalize women and boys? Why don’t you do something real and meaningful in the here and now? Why don’t you do something that isn’t quite as safe and silly as your relentless rants about the Chief and now some old music that has a drumbeat you don’t like! Last night there was a concert performance of the Benny Goodman band playing at Carnegie Hall and they played their unbelievable master-work of the jazz classic “Sing! Sing! Sing!” It has a recurring leitmotif of “Indian” drum beats. You’ll need to get rid of that after you’re done with the “Three in One” because the “Sing….” Piece is so stirring that people quite often cannot refrain from DANCING! I hope the powers that currently be at the University of Illinois, finally and at long last say to the no-nothings like Kaufmann: we are no longer bowing to your lunacy. It is band music. We are keeping it. Sometimes symphony orchestras play Wagner. Sometimes bands play music from the Civil War era written by southern composers. Your thought police are no longer going to call the shots just because you are loud, threatening, and so absurd as to be frightening to those who are always looking for things to feel guilty about and to subsequently display for public viewing and commendation their vacuous performances of deep shame and guilt in the ironic context of their self-righteous demands that others make them feel better about their contrived and assumed shame and stop playing that music! Stop! That music makes me want to DANCE! For me, none of this has to do with "the Chief" or the music. It has to do with thought police, with groupthink, with the kind of atmosphere that the Kaufmans of the world want to create that led, for just one example, to the horrific and too little studied Chinese Cultural Revolution, an atmosphere that is so dangerous and pervasive and growing in this country and one that genuine thinkers need to resist at every turn.

Nice Davis wrote on November 01, 2015 at 1:11 pm

You can tell the chief supporters truly honor, revere, and respect Native Americans because of the fundraisers they organize for troubled Native American communities, the support they've given to the University over the years to make it the pre-eminent academic institute for Native American studies (not to mention the shiny new building chief fans donated to the AIS!), and the time and resources they've all invested into learning more about Native American cultures.

Imagine how hollow the claims of respect would ring if all the chief supporters did to "honor" Native Americans was yell "chiiiiiieeeeeeffffff" in between bites of hot dogs, wear feathered headdresses and t-shirts with the old logo, and write hilariously angry comments on the news-gazette.com. That would be too funny to contemplate!

Mike wrote on November 02, 2015 at 8:11 pm

Other than whining, what have the anti-Chief people done? They have not done a THING to bring Native American issues to the forefront. Kaufman just wants to cause a problem. He has NO desire to help a people that he claims need to be helped (who themselves claim they need no help--go figure).

Who cares if people chant something? What in the world does that harm or hurt? 

If you and your ilk want to actually help people, go help people. Whining about Chief Illiniwek, who is no longer the symbol of the University of Illinois, isn't helping anyone. 

How many more times does this need to be explained?

88illiniwek wrote on November 01, 2015 at 6:11 pm

Kaufman: Go Away. Retirement in Tallahassee might suit you well.