University of Illinois and Chief Illiniwek

Update #2: Debbie Reese, a faculty member at UIUC, blogs at — A Native Perspective on UIUC’s “Chief Illiniwek”. Her latest post contains an email from UIUC’s Chancellor regarding the racist Facebook group.

Update: Inside Higher Education has more information on Chief Illiniwek

I received this in my inbox yesterday…

For Immediate Release January 8, 2006

Pro-Chief Students Issue Call for Racism and Violence against American Indians at University of Illinois

As concerned citizens of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and as faculty in the university’s American Indian Studies Program and staff at the Native American House, we wish to call attention to a recent incident of university students explicitly advocating racist violence against American Indians in general and against one American Indian student in particular.

We call on the university leadership and the university community to express public and unequivocal outrage at this incident. We also call on the university authorities to initiate disciplinary proceedings.

Student behavior of this kind directly violates the University Student Code, section 1-302 parts a 2, d 3, f, g, o 4, and o 5. For the Rules of Conduct in the University Student Code, see http://www.admin.uiuc.edu/policy/code/article_1/a1_1-302.html. Student behavior of this kind also violates the university’s publicly stated policy on acts of intolerance (http://www.odos.uiuc.edu/stophate/intro.asp).

On Facebook, the popular student-centered social web forum, a University of Illinois student has begun a group called “If They Get Rid of the Chief I’m Becoming a Racist.” The group’s web site can be viewed at this Facebook address: http://uillinois.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2216973206, though it is likely that Facebook authorities will soon remove the site, because it violates Facebook policies. One hundred and ten University of Illinois students have joined this group.

Two students have posted inflammatory messages on the group’s web site. These messages are available to any web user who registers with Facebook, which includes most University of Illinois students and many other people across the campus community and across the national and world-wide network of Facebook users.

On November 20, 2006, a University of Illinois student posted the following explicitly racist words that call for the death of Indian people, which of course includes the Indian people who are members of the University of Illinois community: “what they don’t realize is that there was never a racist problem before..but now i hate redskins and hope all those drunk, casino owning bums die.” On December 2, 2006, another student wrote the following explicit threat, a call for violence directed at a specific University of Illinois student: “that’s the worst part! apparently the leader of this movement is of Sioux descent. Which means what, you ask? the Sioux indians are the ones that killed off the Illini indians, so she’s just trying to finish what her ancestors started. I say we throw a tomohawk into her face.”

No university can continue to function normally when its students explicitly and publicly threaten and call for violence against other students. Such a call would not be tolerated if it were made against another racial group. No university community or leadership can tolerate such actions. We, the American Indian Studies faculty and Native American House staff of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, call on the university community and leadership to condemn these actions publicly and vociferously.

Chief Illiniwek needs to be discontinued.