Chief Illiniwek, News and Reaction, Politics, Sundry

“Mister Illiniwek”

You know, organized Republicans make me jittery?

You know, this past week I’ve been working on a web site for the daily-menu stuff?

You know, I went to a program tonight where pro and anti Chief folks were presenting their opinions to the University student Senate? See, the Republicans were there, all sitting front and center, and except for a token black lady and a blond girl who said “my great great grandmother was a Cherokee princess” they were all white people. Now I have nothing against white people myself – I mean hey my whole blood family is white people – but a whole bunch of them sitting together cheering on the cause of a Native American mascot makes me feel ooky.

The Senate will be voting on a resolution to remove Chief Illiniwek as the school mascot. Even if it passes the Senate though, nothing really happens unless the Board of Trustees, appointed by Jim Edgar, approve it as well.

The Board of Trustees is a bunch of crusty old white people who think they’re right. The arguments of the pro-chief forces were basically “I like the chief, he means a lot to me, and he’s not so bad, we should keep him.” The anti-chief folks kinda stressed how he was inaccurate, offensive, patronizing, and tended to reveal the University’s hypocrisy – the chief is meant to honor, but he offends Native people. Proponents claim he raises awareness of Native culture, but the University doesn’t have a Native American studies program. The University promised a dean for Native American students, and then reneged.

Judging by the statements made by Senate members who were present, there was a strong anti-chief feeling by the end of the meeting. It felt reassuring. I know the whole conflict isn’t at all about to be resolved overnight. If the senate passes it’s resolution to retire Illiniwek though, and the BOT shits on the student action, things might get very interesting indeed. The student body is pretty fucking apathetic especially after that DIA move.

One Senator asked a question as to why if the Chief was okay back in 1927, is it no longer acceptable? I think it was a rhetorical question, but I muttered to myself “Black face was acceptable in 1927.” The guy next to me heard and quipped “and the Klan was an RSO.”

There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

One student, Tammy Stanke, went on a big thing about how our University was a leader, and its students were leaders, and yadda yadda yadda yah … and so it is fitting that our symbol is a Chief, because “the Chief is always listened to.” I thought of how, if my understanding is correct, the Chief in an Indian tribe generally lets others speak and decides amongst the arguments presented, presenting a verdict, more like a judge. A University and a wizened judge sort don’t seem the same type to me … we’re full of babbling youngsters, who produce ideas for society to use and judge. Our supercomputers are not something I could envision a wise old Indian Chief taking a leadership role on. But then who am I to speak for native culture?

While he started out kinda nervous-sounding and stuttery, David Song made a point I found especially agreeable, that the Senate should pass the resolution in part to bring the debate before the BOT, who would just as soon forget about Native American affairs and issues of student democracy entirely, like they were bad dreams. Okay, I’m putting words in his mouth there, but I do agree that the Senate would serve the student body well by being more contentious with the Board. I, for one, am not a Happy Camper.

I went to lunch, and they were serving Cheeseburgers. Now normally these are kinda processed-meat looking things with a little rectangle of cheese over part of them that makes you think you’re in a fast food place. Shake the grease off well and you’ve got a fairly tasty burger by those standards. Today they were cooked poorly though. Dark on the outside, pinkish cold on the inside, and all the lettuce was flat and wilty. I cracked. I got pissed off and really bitchy and went on a little tirade about how I hate everything. As much as we get charged for this food, you think they could do a decent job! We agreed that getting Old Country Buffet in there or some private enterprise that does a good job might be pretty keen. If you can’t tell, I’m not at all keen on dining services.

What else? The guy from the Observer, our local left-wing loony tabloid, argued that we should keep the Chief because there’s this football fanatic who drives to every game from Kentucky or somesuch who would stop coming if the Chief were retired. Tammy also compared incidents of the Chief being burned in effigy by opposing schools to incidents of the American flag being burned in foreign countries – “they’re not burning us” – no, Tammy, they’re not, they’re burning an image of a Native American which we have appropriated for our own use. I’d rather be represented by old glory than the people we raped to build this great country, and if anything is to be burned in effigy, I’d rather not it be an image representing a people we collectively owe a great deal to.

The PRC representative asked rhetorically why the College Republicans were participating in an effort to build a monument to Ronald Reagen in every state when for Native Americans it was sufficient to honor them as a football team mascot. Why not honor Native Americans with a statue, a monument, or something more honorable?

The whole issue makes my stomach churn and my blood boil, but I kinda need that now anyways, keep me motivated!

Someone retorted to all those who argued that Chief Illiniwek honored them that it’s not about you it’s about Native Americans!

Well, enough about me.

Read More

Categories: Chief Illiniwek, News and Reaction, Politics, Sundry