Remember Chief Illiniwek, the white kid who dressed up in full costume and did a big dance at halftime of every game at the University of Illinois? He was supposed to be gone and buried in 2007, when the school complied with the NCAA’s directive to end all potentially “abusive” imagery involving American Indians.
But not so fast. Seems that a group of Illini students with way too much time (and money, apparently) on their hands are bringing the Chief back, without university approval. However, the group of Chief enthusiasts will be using university property for their new unveiling. This is going to go over great with the NCAA.
As Illinois gets ready for the Rose Bowl, some fans say reports of the death of Chief Illiniwek are greatly exaggerated - or at least still open to discussion:
Eric Zorn of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE sends smoke signals on the latest fight for the revival of the U of I’s controversial mascot.
Last February, under pressure from the NCAA, the school put the feather dress & buckskin-wearing warrior to rest. No longer would the big chief roam around Memorial Stadium or Assembly Hall. And Zorn notes that various websites originally set up in support of Illiniwek have now become inactive.
However, chief supporters of the Chief say that they haven’t given up the fight just yet. The leader of Students for Chief Illiniwek claims, “We’ve been trying to stay under the radar. We’re getting ready for our big push.“
And the co-founder of the Honor the Chief Society has a plan to bring Illiniwek back into the limelight - by changing the way university trustees are appointed. If the group can convince the state to select trustees by popular election, they’re convinced that pro-Chief candidates could be voted onto the board.
Even a university spokesman admitted that many fans & students still wear Illiniwek-inspired clothing to games & on campus. And chief-themed imaged were allowed in last October’s homecoming parade.
It appears that the good Chief is not dead yet, unlike the Illini’s chances against USC in Pasadena.