Oglala Sioux asks for regalia

The Oglala Sioux Tribe has asked the University of Illinois and the University of Illinois Board of Trustees to return the Lakota regalia that is currently being worn by UIUC’s “Chief Illiniwek.”

The mascot discussion at Inside Higher Education is a microcosm of what is going on at the University of Illinois.

Chief Illiniwek is a racist caricature. The University of Illinois and the University of Illinois Board of Trustees are sanctioning institutionalized racism.

White people in Illinois who have the institutional power to fix this unjust situation are actively perpetuating racism. That’s about as point-blank as I can write it.

RESOLUTION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE OGLALA SIOUX TRIBE DEMANDING RETURN OF LAKOTA REGALIA USED IN PERFORMANCE OF “CHIEF ILLINIWEK,” AND IN SUPPORT OF REQUEST BY PEORIA TRIBE OF OKLAHOMA THAT THE USE OF THE MASCOT CEASE.

On January 17, 2007, the Executive Committee of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Nation submitted a resolution to the University of Illinois President and Board of Trustees and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor demanding the return of the Lakota regalia used in the portrayal of the school’s mascot to the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

The official resolution refers to the “theatrics” and “antics” of “chief illiniwek” and notes that the “Oglala Lakota regalia is being misused to represent ‘Chief Illiniwek'” and needs to be returned to the rightful owners of the tribe. The resolution further states that “Chief Illiniwek” not only “perpetuates a degrading racial stereotype,” but violates the integrity of traditional Illinois tribes including the “Kaskaskia, Peroria, Piankeshuw, and Wea nations.”

Moreover, the Resolution by the Oglala Sioux supports the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma “in its request that the University of Illinois recognize the demeaning nature of the characterization of ‘Chief Illiniwek’ and cease use of this mascot.” In 2000, the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma passed a resolution “Request to University of Illinois to Cease Use of Chief llliniwek as Mascot.”

Given the increasing concerns regarding the experiences of racism and oppression facing American Indian nations and communities, the faculty of American Indian Studies (AIS) and the staff at the Native American House (NAH) at the University of Illinois welcome the Resolution of the Executive Committee of the Oglala Sioux Tribe that disapproves of the use of the Lakota Regalia in “Chief Illiniwek” performances and calls for cessation of the mascot.

Further, AIS/NAH faculty and staff call upon the Board of Trustees, President White, and UIUC administration to respond to this resolution with due respect and action. There can be no misreading of the Oglala Sioux Resolution—those to whom the Lakota regalia belongs and whom the Board of Trustees claims to be honoring have clearly requested that the performance and charade of “chief illiniwek” end.

press release via A Native Perspective on UIUC’s “Chief Illiniwek” by Debbie Reese