The University of Illinois Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to retire “Chief Illiniwek.” One Board member dissented, and was quoted by the Tribune as follows:
“When you look at Chief Illiniwek and you see hatred, shame and embarrassment … you should consider where those feelings really come from,” Dorris said. “The people who engaged in that tradition were not hostile or abusive or racist.”
Where do these feelings come from? They come from a long history of white privilege. “Tradition” is often just another way to justify the status quo. I disagree entirely with the idea that the people supporting the “Chief” were not “hostile or abusive or racist.” Read some of the open forums with discussion about this issue or speak with Native Americans and you get quite a different picture.