Debate Over University Of Illinois Mascot Rages After Retirement

 
Supporters and opponents of University of Illinois' mascot listen at a board of trustees meeting Thursday, June 17, 2004 in Chicago.

Supporters and opponents of University of Illinois' mascot listen at a board of trustees meeting Thursday, June 17, 2004 in Chicago.

M. Spencer Green/AP

Over the course of the last few months, the movement for racial justice has reignited the call for racially insensitive mascots and team names to be replaced. Last month, the Washington D.C. football team announced that it would change its name in response to mounting pressure for what was widely considered racist and offensive to Native Americans. But as sports teams from all levels continue to carry on with names that could be considered racist and offensive, it’s no guarantee that even retiring a mascot or an image means it will disappear. Look no further than the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who retired their race-based mascot, Chief Illiniwek, 13 years ago. Yet the depiction continues to endure, with some even calling for the mascot to be restored. 

The 21st speaks to an education reporter, former professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as well as a member of the Hopi Tribe, and a retired lecturer at the UIUC as well as author of Dancing at Halftime: Sports and the Controversy Over American Indian Mascots to hear more. 

Guests:

Lee Gaines, education reporter for Illinois Newsroom 

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert, former professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and now Head of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona, and a member of the Hopi Tribe  

Carol Spindel, writer, retired lecturer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and author of Dancing at Halftime: Sports and the Controversy Over American Indian Mascots 

 

Prepared for web by Zainab Qureshi

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