Pember: 'Chief Illiniwek' tradition finally dies
"The University of Illinois' Chief Illiniwek mascot performed his last traditional dance Wednesday, and it's about time.

The mascot's supporters have argued that the chief and his dance are a valuable tradition, inspiring students for more than 80 years.

But labeling an activity a tradition does not make it right. Many traditions in our culture, often conducted in the spirit of good, clean fun by well-intentioned citizens, have been retired because they are no longer appropriate.

The chief's dance and goofy face paint were a burlesque rendition of American Indian dancing. How could such a performance be interpreted as a gesture of honor for Indians by anyone other than an intoxicated frat boy?

If a mascot had a tradition of performing in black face at athletic games, we would not be witnessing such a public debate. The practice would have been ended years ago because people would have understood the inappropriateness of such an act.

With our lack of economic and political power, however, Indians are among the last ethnic groups that are still fair game for public disrespect."

Get the Story:
Mary Annette Pember: Here's a happy goodbye to an Indian mascot (The Billings Gazette 2/26)

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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