University of Illinois senate backs tribe’s stance on chief

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URBANA, Ill. — The University of Illinois campus senate is backing a Native American tribe’s stance that the school’s longtime Chief Illiniwek mascot is a degrading racial stereotype.

The Academic Senate approved a resolution in a near-unanimous vote Monday supporting the Peoria Tribe of Oklahoma’s statement against any use of the chief as a symbol or mascot.

University officials dropped the portrayal in 2007, but professor Jay Rosenstein tells The News-Gazette that the tribe’s statement calling it a harmful stereotype is important.

Resolution sponsors said the Peoria tribe is the only one recognized by the federal government that includes descendants of the Illinois Indians who once lived in the Urbana-Champaign area.

A recent university report suggested adopting a new sports mascot. Chancellor Robert Jones told the senate that Chief Illiniwek won’t return.

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