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Letter from the Editor
Each week IHSFW.com's Editor-in-Chief Vincent Johnson will be bringing his thoughts on topics & events in the world of high school football to this page. Read what he has to say, then feel free to chime in on the IHSFW.com message board to give your own thoughts.

The Murder of Chief Illiniwek (8/6/05)

For those of you who missed it. The NCAA has effectively killed all of the Native Americans in college sports as we know it. Well, killed is a strong word, more like turned them all into zombies.

 

Starting Feb. 1st, 2006, all teams with supposed offensive names, or as the NCAA terms it "hostile or abusive", will not be allowed to host a post season game and are not allowed to participate unless they cover up or change their names. Fear not, Bowl Games are not run by the NCAA, so you Illini fans can rest easy, at least for now.

For those of you who are fans of Chief Illiniwek, prepare for the funeral. Maybe the folks at the U. of I. would be nice enough to allow the students to erect a large wooden funeral pile that could have a cloth dummy dressed in the Chief's clothes placed on top. Possibly somewhere in the open lot just west of Memorial Stadium.

Everybody could purchase an old sports jersey that still had the Illini name or logo on it, the money could go to a Native American scholarship fund. Then the buyer could light it on fire & throw it on the wood pile as we burn the effigy of the Chief and give him a proper burial. Because, let's face it. After 2005, he's done.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm no fan of the chief. Even back in my high schools days I found a certain absurdness to some white suburban frat boy dressing up like an Indian Chief and going onto the field or court to do some high kicking gymnastic's routine, but I'm no advocate of changing the names of schools, just because the name depicts a culture which is what the NCAA is doing.

I had to stop & think about this for a while, but the last time I checked calling someone's ethnic group a bunch of drunks & fighters wasn't cool. So why hasn't the NCAA added Notre Dame & the Fighting Irish to it's list of "hostile & abusive" names (I know it's not the Drunk Fighting Irish, but it's the first thing that comes to mind when I see that mascot logo).

Why aren't my Greek friends up in arms about about Michigan State & every other school called the Spartans or Olympians. Where's the out cry from the Scottish about the Highlanders, or are teams like these accurately displayed. Why is there no out cry, because these people don't feel that their part in history is going to be marginalized.

Now for those of you who haven't takin a class in Native American Studies, please feel free to list 5 Tribes that aren't used as a team mascot. Now think really hard & how many of those do you remember because of some Hollywood movie. This isn't about being seen as some stereo type savage, it's about only having one damn chapter in the history book that covers 400 years of a country that another group of people have occupied for over 10,000 years.

I'm all for getting rid of certain names & logos, but I'm a big fan of teams who have adopted an actual name of a tribe for their mascot. Not just some random, indian, warrior or redman. I'm a big fan of how Native America culture helped shaped this country of ours and not just our names.

Think about how boring our country would be with out names like Chicago, Sioux Falls, Illinois, Chippewa Valley & Milwaukee to name a few. Imagine if a few people didn't like the way we named our cities after Native American names & places, get ready to visit the third largest city in America "West York" or Daley Town as we like to call it.

It would be a sad day in sports if every Illiniwek, Sioux, Seminole & Sequoit had to walk it's own Trail of Tears out of the stadiums & fields across this country.

Vincent D. Johnson
Editor-in-Chief/IHSFW.com

 

 

 

 

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