“This campus is more divided than I’ve ever seen it. These protesters are more emphatic, destructive and literally hostile than I’ve ever seen before. And it’s shaking. It’s disappointing,” Dozier said.
Saturday’s football game against Wisconsin was preceded by a Native American dance performance to show solidarity with the use of Chief Illiniwek’s likeness on campus. The performance was hosted by the Native American Guardian Association, an organization dedicated to preserving Native American imagery and symbolism in American athletics. “We come to find with recent research … most Native American people actually embrace (Native American symbols),” said Mark Thomas Beasley Yellow Horse, president of NAGA.
“So to continue to have these things taken away from the identity of who we are as a University it absolutely kills me because I know myself, I know anybody who put on one of those football jerseys or any of those Illlini jerseys for any other sport, you tried to embody as a player and as a person everything that the Chief embodied and symbolized himself.”
"It is almost more offensive that Native Americans, who do support Native American mascots, are bullied into finding something offensive that doesn’t offend them. It is more offensive that people who are in no way affiliated with Native Americans are the same people who so morally oppose these mascots. They are the same people who are trying to tell Native Americans how to think and feel."
“This is why there is such a passion revolving around this subject. To some outsiders, it’s ‘just a stupid mascot,’ and they scream for us to move on already. To those of us who understand, who’ve lived on campus, upholding the great traditions, this runs deep within us. It’s a pride that gets us excited at ballgames. It’s a feeling when you hear the band hit that first big note during pre-game in Memorial Stadium or during halftime of the ‘Three-in-One’ Chief’s appearance and dance. It gives us chills when we gather at homecoming, with a feeling of ‘family’ after years of not seeing our friends from far away places. And all of this revolves around the Chief, the pride of the Illini."
This is a four-chapter series about how the tradition of Chief Illiniwek continues on campus despite its ban in 2007. The series dives into how the Chief has remained a prevalent image in the C-U community and how its impact is felt across campus.
“I will say that most of the community is pretty uneducated about the full history and symbolism, which is unfortunate, but gives us a clear goal of education,” Ivan Dozier says. “Not a single person I’ve talked to over the years who is against the Chief has had all of their facts correct. To me this paints a clear picture—that we need to get everyone educated about the issue first and come to opinions later.”
Frustrated Illini, UI Fails to Lead -Dave Wischnowsky
"Because with this deeply complex issue, the truth is that U. of I. banning War Chant isn’t really just about a song. Rather, big picture-wise, it’s yet another step in the university’s maddening campaign to eradicate all things related to this state’s Native American heritage rather than find ways to better embrace it."