Monday, January 29, 2007

It's About Winning

Well, duh. I’ve been saying this for some time:

I recently asked supporters of Chief Illiniwek: "What important principle do you feel is being advanced by the effort to save this symbol of the University of Illinois? What makes it worth all the controversy and the hurt feelings?"

Many responses later, I'm confident I have the answer: Not tradition. Not respect for American Indians. The main sentiment keeping the Chief in place is opposition to those who want to retire him as an offensive caricature.

Even the Chief’s supporters don’t really care that much about the Chief (why would they). What they care about is beating their political and cultural opponents. I suspect the other side has a lot of this same energy. That’s why I’ve also consistently said that while I oppose the Chief in principle, it’s really about item number 10,001 on my ranking of issues that need addressing.

Still, I’m just not interested in hearing anymore that the Chief somehow pays homage to Native Americans and he’s really a great symbol and all that nonsense.


JeromeProphet said...

Not only should we abandone Illiniwek, but I believe we should rename the state.

I like Soybeania, or perhaps Cornopia.

We could use a Giant soybean, or perhaps a stalk of corn as a symbol.

Some might take offense, but it's worth a try.


Dave said...

I don't think anyone is taking offense to the Chief's name per se, I think it has more to do with the caricature. Therefore, I also don't think anyone is offended by the state's name.

I know you're mostly kidding here but that type of arguement is actaully made with some seriousness by some in the pro-Chief camp.

JeromeProphet said...

I actually believe it is time for the Chief to be retired.

He serves no real purpose, and some find his dancing offensive.

I for one, and this is just an idea that is probably not politically correct, would love to see a real American Indian do some kind of blessing.

It could cause a backlash religion wise, and perhaps it's not a good idea.

Again, if we just want a "mascot" well that's probably not going to work, but if people are genuinely endeared to, and curious with, American Indian spirituality, culture, and history - something that ties us white folk with those we killed, raped, and robbed of everything they had - then maybe a tribal council would approve such events before games.

And, if a percentage of the ticket income would be donated to a scholarship fund for American Indians at the U of I, then maybe this could serve in some small way to make up for the Karmic injustice we have done to Native Americans.

About renaming places to no longer reflect Indian tribes, or to drop Indian words from geographical descriptions - that is, and alway will be up to the generation that is living today.

As Latinos take over the U.S., and they most certainly will, many of the streets, schools, etc., that are named for, and by one group of immigrants (gringos) will be replaced with names of the next group of immigrants (Latinos).

It is in fact possible that several states will be renamed, so I don't feel it is sacrilege to suggest that eventually most references to native Americans could find themselves relegated to history books.

If American Indians take offense to using their sacred names, and words I'd be more than happy to drop any reference to those names, and words. It would allow the people of this generation a chance to name places.

I'd love the opportunity to name the State of Illinois. Or to rename a river. And that doesn't make me a racist, just a sensitive guy who doesn't want to offend anyone, and is willing to help everyone get along.