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Column: It's time to get rid of 'Chief Illiniwek'

"For generations, University of Illinois students, alumni, officials, families and fans have returned on homecoming to cheer for the team and to celebrate with Chief Illiniwek, mascot of the school's athletic teams since 1926.

I came to this leafy, quintessentially Midwestern campus on homecoming weekend to see the Illiniwek spectacle for myself.

During my time here, I also saw that:

# After eight decades of institutionalized cultural insensitivity, the timing is right for the university to officially terminate the demeaning fantasy of Chief Illiniwek and the equally demeaning nickname "Fighting Illini."

# The university dogma that has perpetuated Chief Illiniwek has no basis in coherent reality.

# A climate of fear and intimidation permeates the lives of Native American administrators, faculty members and students who exercise their First Amendment freedom to speak out against Chief Illiniwek.

# Sanctions imposed on the university by the National Collegiate Athletic Association because of Chief Illiniwek have created hope that the chief's retirement may come soon.

# The Illiniwek culture is so deeply ingrained � from cradle to grave � that loyalists hope to somehow keep the chief alive even after the university's board of trustees delivers the inevitable coup de grace."

Get the Story:
George Benge: University of Illinois' Chief Illiniwek is out of step these days (Gannett News Service 10/11)

Relevant Links:
Chief Illiniwek, University of Illinois -
Retire the Chief -

Related Stories:
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University said to drop 'Chief Illiniwek' as mascot (08/31)
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NCAA allows 'Illini' but rejects 'Chief Illiniwek' (11/14)
Column: Tribes have right to oppose 'Chief Illiniwek' (09/15)
University of Illinois trustee blasts NCAA policy (08/17)
Illiniwek 'chiefs' say they are proud of tradition (04/22)
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