The 3 in 1 is an integral part of the musical tradition of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The administration appears ready to eliminate any reference to the Native American culture that was once a dominant force in the State of Illinois and gave the State (and the school) its name. The 3 in 1 is not meant to mimic or mock Native American tradition or culture and the majority of the medley was composed before the controversial Chief Illiniwek was first conceived. The music is intended to be a proverbial nod to the Native American roots of the Midwest and the history of the University of Illinois. Removing any such references would only serve to sanitize our history by eliminating Native American elements and would be a disservice to those who came before.
As we are sure you know, while the 3 in 1 did indeed play during the performance of the now-retired Chief Illiniwek for many years, two of the individual pieces of music that make up the medley predate the Chief’s first conception. It is also important to note that the issue of clapping during the 3 in 1 is connected to the fans, not Chief Illiniwek. While he performed, the Chief did not clap. Rather, the fans clapped in time to the beat of the music; other than performing during the medley there is no evidence that the music is attached solely to Chief Illiniwek and violates NCAA sanctions against having a Native American symbol representing the University.
According to the Chief Illiniwek Dialogue Report posted on the University’s website, Hail to the Orange was composed in 1908, 18 years before Chief Illiniwek’s first appearance; Pride of the Illini was written after the Chief’s arrival, however, per the Chief Illiniwek Dialogue Report, the “beat of that music is a traditional marching beat.” As this is the case, even though it was composed after Illiniwek’s first appearance, it does not contain any overt connections to the character of Chief Illiniwek. Interestingly, the only part of the 3 in 1 that contains a Native American “tom-tom” beat is March of the Illini, which was composed in 1922 and was meant to represent “the Indian tradition existing on the campus prior to the Chief's arrival.” It cannot be denied that the Native American tribes living on this land influenced its modern residents. The Illini tribe gave the State its name, and it would be a disservice to them if we attempted to sanitize them from our traditions as we are the flagship university of the State of Illinois.
The original intent of the composers was to honor the tremendous tradition of the University of Illinois and the history of the people who once lived in the great State of Illinois. That original intent must be allowed to shine through today by leaving the medley fundamentally unchanged; frankly, the only acceptably changes to the music, in the eyes of the alumni, would be those made to balance the sound of the band.
Some may believe that eliminating “Native American” elements would be best for the University of Illinois. The fact of the matter is such elimination would only serve to destroy an integral part of our tradition. Truthfully, should such a change be made it is unlikely the University of Illinois will receive future donations from many Illinois alumni.
We the Undersigned