His Last Official
The "three in
The Unofficial Return of
Illiniwek was the mascot and official symbol of the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign associated with the
University's intercollegiate athletic programs from 1926 to
February 21, 2007. The mascot was generally portrayed by a
white student dressed in Sioux regalia and intended to honor
the Illiniwek, the state's namesake. The student portraying
Chief Illiniwek performed during halftime of Illinois football
and basketball games, as well as during women's volleyball
For more than two decades, Chief Illiniwek has been the
center of a controversy. At the root of the controversy is the
view of some Native American groups and others that the
symbol/mascot was a misappropriation of indigenous cultural
figures and rituals and that it perpetuated stereotypes about
Native American peoples. As a result of this controversy, the
NCAA termed Chief Illiniwek a "hostile or abusive" mascot and
image in August 2005 and banned the university from hosting
postseason activities as long as it continued to use the mascot
In April 2008, the "Council of Chiefs", a group of
previous Chief Illiniwek performers, named a student to portray
the chief, although this portrayal is not sanctioned or
endorsed by the University.
An event called "Students for Chief Illiniwek Presents: The
Next Dance,took place on November 15, 2008 following the
football game against Ohio State University, in the Assembly
"We want to do this event on a very exciting day for Illini
fans and we want it to be a complement to that day's game,"
said Roberto Martell Jr., president of Students for Chief
Illiniwek and junior in LAS. An open letter was
sent forth by the Native American House encouraging the entire
University community to speak out against the event. The
event took place in the spirit it was meant to further - one of
support and respect for the spirit that Chief Illinwek
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