Banning the symbol from the University of Illinois not only rids the school of its prided tradition, but also denies the honor that the symbol brings to the great Illiniwek Confederacy.
You do not need to be a currently enrolled student at the Univesity of Illinois, or even an alum. Anyone who supports the Chief should sign this!
Dear National Collegiate Athletic Association,
We the students, alumni, and supporters of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign write to the association to declare our discontent with the prohibition of the use of Native American logos and mascots, namely Chief Illiniwek.
We believe the ban is inconsistent with the NCAA's own principles, is arbitrarily and inconsistently applied, and fails to consider the respectful nature of the portrayal of Native Americans. As the association states on their website, one of the core values of the association is "Respect for institutional autonomy and philosophical differences." By inducing sanctions prohibiting postseason competition for certain schools using Native American mascots, the association has denied these institutions a vital component of their independence. Schools suffering such sanctions have lost the freedom to choose a symbol that represents their community. However, some schools with mascots similar to Chief Illiniwek have been permitted to retain their use. The Utah Utes, the Central Michigan University Chippewas, and the Florida State University Seminoles are all examples of Native American mascots that the association permits, yet the University of Illinois has been forced to relinquish Chief Illiniwek, and in turn, lose a sense of pride and community which had been growing for 81 years.
Native American logos represent entire communities and create a sense of identity for students, faculty, and the community surrounding the institution. For example, many major state universities have mascots which are named after the state's nickname, such as the University of Wisconsin, the University of Oklahoma, the Ohio State University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Iowa. The Hawkeyes is a reference to Native American peoples, and the state of Oklahoma derives its name from Choctaw words meaning "red people". The use of such mascots, then, seems comparable to the University of Illinois's use of the Chief Illiniwek symbol and mascot. As the Illiniwek Confederation spanned the whole state of Illinois, the people of the state have gained a strong sense of identity with the tribes of the confederation. The use of the Chief symbol shows respect and honors those of the confederation and should not be considered hostile or abusive.
Another core value of the NCAA is "an inclusive culture that fosters equitable participation for student-athletes and career opportunities for coaches and administrators from diverse backgrounds." However, logos representing other peoples, such as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the San Diego State University Aztecs, and many schools using the Vikings or Cowboys as their mascot, are representations of groups of people. This is not considerably different from using a Native American logo. The examples above are generally not considered offensive, and it should be no different for Native Americans. In the words of a recent chief of the Peoria Tribe of Oklahoma, " "To say that we are anything but proud to have these portrayals would be completely wrong. We are proud. We're proud that the University of Illinois, the flagship university of the state, a seat of learning, is drawing on that background of our having been there. And what more honor could they pay us?"
Because of the aforementioned reasons, we the signers of this petition ask that the NCAA remove any sanctions that would be imposed upon the University of Illinois, should it reinstate the Chief Illiniwek symbol.