This Is The Indian Song

Aug 25, 2017

I walked across the street from ISR to Krannert, on my way to the "welcome" speech to kick off freshman orientation in June of 1991, and I was handed a flyer: "you are choosing to attend the most racist University in the country!" It had a photo of the Chief with one of those red circles with a line through it, and it was my first introduction to a campus political issue which would continue for 16 years until the removal of the Chief in 2007.

If asked my opinion on the Chief during those 16 years, I always pointed to one thing. I had attended an NCAA Tournament regional where Tennessee-Chattanooga was participating, and the "Mocs" had a chief too - a guy, in war paint, with a single feather extending up from the back of his head, wearing an oversized Mocs basketball jersey that said "Cheef" on the back (number: 00 for some reason), who danced with the cheerleaders. Like, 90's dance moves while their fans yelled "go Chief go". I would always try to draw a distinction between the Mocs "chief" and the Illini (or Florida State) chiefs. That was just where I came down on the issue - one should go, one should stay.

In the end, I was on the wrong side. The University removed the Chief (but kept the name Fighting Illini), and I accepted it. I'm just kind of like that as I get older - an acceptor. If the waiter brings me the wrong order, I eat it. Why wait another 20 minutes just to get what I want? I didn't need that burger anyway. Maybe this turkey wrap will be OK.

Since that time, we've been in this weird phase with Fighting Illini where it's half Native American imagery, half military imagery. I'm not a historian, but I'll attempt to play one in this article.

It's true that the term "Fighting Illini" comes from World War I. Post-WWI, to be specific. The first references to the term all center around the effort to build Memorial Stadium in the early 1920's as a memorial to those who lost their lives in World War I. The rallying cry: "build that stadium for fighting Illini", meaning Illinois men and women who had died in World War I. There was even a song at the time - Fight, Illini - which rallied students and alumni to build a stadium to honor our "fighting men" from the war.

Why "Illini"? It's complicated. The state of Illinois was named after the French word for the native people in the area (the Illiniwek, a Peoria Indian term), but the term "Illini" was never used. This is important. Most people think that the term "Illini" comes from an "Illini tribe" of Native American people who once lived in the area, but that's not really the case. As the article linked above states, the term "Illiniwek" or "Iliniwok" was used to describe several tribes in the region who spoke similar languages, but by the early 1800's all had consolidated into the Kaskaskia and Peoria tribes. There never really was an "Illini tribe", at least not using that word.

So where does the term "Illini" come from? According to all of the articles I've read, it's mostly a University of Illinois term. Taken from "Illiniwek" and "Illinois", the University adopted "Illini" as a way to describe Illinois natives and then "Fighting Illini" to describe those who died in World War I. As college athletics became a thing, and as mascots and symbols for those teams were defined, we became the "Fighting Illini".

And then we veered directly towards the Native American imagery. We added a Chief and called him "Illiniwek". We added a fight song using a Native American drum circle beat (DUMdumdumdum DUMdumdumdum) and "war chant" music. Dozens of Universities did the same, as well as professional teams (Braves, Chiefs, Indians, Blackhawks), and "Fighting Illini" became synonymous with "fighting Indians".

Fast forward to 2007 and the Chief being retired. After decades of debate, the decision was made to move us away from the Native American imagery. I disagreed, and I pointed to Florida State and the Seminole tribe who embraces the imagery, but I accepted it. The Chief's "last dance" was at a basketball game in February of 2007.

But I was stunned that the War Chant remained. In terms of imagery, and in terms of cultural appropriation, I never understood why the song remained while the Chief was retired. Had we had a Tennessee-Chattanooga "Cheef", I could understand I guess, but this was not a mascot on the sideline - the Chief appeared at halftime for the three-in-one and then was gone. Yet we played the song on every third down. If the Chief needed to be removed, why was the song, something that seemed much more "offensive" if those are the rules, acceptable? It didn't make much sense.

And let's be very clear here - I don't know if it still happens today, but back in the 90's, when the band would break into the war chant, most people around me in Block I would sing "this is the Indian song... the stupid Indian song". As much as I wanted to claim that the Chief was an honored symbol, not a mascot, and scream "we're Florida State, not Tennessee Chattanooga!", that became a little more difficult when those were the funny lyrics that the students used. I mean, I've seen some people today arguing that the song has no Native American imagery and is based in University of Illinois tradition, but the students literally say "this is the Indian song". At least they did when I was there.

Now, as of today, the song is gone. This may make me thrilled as a football fan (I've written many times about how the song is the worst opponent's third down run-up in America, what with the fans clapping once every two seconds and not getting loud), but it makes me sad as a long-time fan who enjoys the traditions of a fall Saturday in Champaign. Other schools get to keep their traditions, ours are being stripped one by one. And it's not just football - my memories of standing in Krush with hundreds of members all clapping above our heads (in unison) to the music - that was OUR thing, man. And now it's gone.

But, I accept it. In fact, I believe this is the end of it all. Many believe the name "Fighting Illini" is next, but I really don't think that will be the case. The name, misconstrued as it may be, steered towards Native American imagery for decades as it was, has its roots in the region and its people. It is unique to the University, not appropriated from some culture. The French settlers took a form of the word "Illiniwek" and it became the name of the state. The alumni, faculty, and students took another form of the word (their own, which is important) and named their memorial stadium after these "Fighting Illini" and it eventually became the nickname for the athletic teams. I believe this will live on forever.

Which makes me think back on 18 year-old me being shamed for choosing to attend a racist University. Sorry, "the most racist University in America". That kid would have hated this article. He didn't like anyone telling him what was right or wrong, offensive or inoffensive. Now, 26 years later (dear God, 26 years?), I'm less angry and more accepting. The powers that be have decided that the Chief and the song should be retired, and 44 year-old me accepts it.

If they come for the name, I'll fight it. At the core, our teams are named after the 182 men and 1 woman inscribed on those columns in the stadium. To remove the name would be to disgrace them, and I won't stand aside and let it happen. I stand and cheer for The Fighting Illini with pride knowing the true root of the name.

The song? It's gone, and I accept it. Now let's make some actual noise on third down.


Douglascountyillinifan on August 25, 2017 @ 07:36 PM

"I believe this is the end of it all." Unfortunately, I don't. I believe this is next.

Groundhogday on August 25, 2017 @ 08:23 PM

You might be right. They could keep the Hail to the Orange part, and the early part of the Pride, but the rest that clearly has native american themes will probably go - eventually.

Groundhogday on August 25, 2017 @ 08:25 PM

One of your better articles, Robert. I guess we must be in a similar life phase because I'm also pretty accepting these days. And I was a band guy who played that music for four years, with all the associated emotional attachment.

thumpasaurus on August 25, 2017 @ 08:32 PM

By the time I got there, we'd updated the lyrics.

"This is our Indian song, it doesn't last very long."

A medley of three school songs involving the Alma Mater with the marching band forming ILLINI formation should remain. It's our thing and predates script Ohio.

Would I be particularly upset if "Pride of the Illini" were written out in favor of Sousa's Illinois march? Not particularly. It's pretty good.

Groundhogday on August 25, 2017 @ 09:59 PM

Someone could compose new music for the ILLINI formation, including the non-offensive parts of the 3-and-1.

jdcoleman7 on August 26, 2017 @ 01:08 AM

By the time I was on campus (09-14), it was, "This is the Indian song, it's only five words long."

Doesn't change anything, but sort of funnier.

Illiniiniowa on August 26, 2017 @ 01:43 AM

I'm shocked at the outrage over getting rid of the stupid Indian song. (My years in Block I overlap with Robert) I was disappointed with losing the Chief, although it was probably the right thing to do, but this is a non event for me.

Illiniiniowa on August 26, 2017 @ 01:55 AM

For those wondering where it stops, I'm okay with losing the 3 in 1, but I will die on a hill over the name Fighting Illini and Illinois Loyalty.

HiggsBoson on August 26, 2017 @ 02:41 AM

I follow Illini sports as a tribute to my late father who was old enough to have seen Red Grange play and grew up to hold multiple degrees from the U of I (as do I). Illini sports were always something we could talk about, and both of us loved The Chief (not to mention that I have Indian heritage on my mother's side of the family). He stopped contributing financially when they did away with the Chief. I'm glad he didn't live to see the continued assault on well loved traditions.

I still continue to follow along, but it's hard when the university just keeps spitting in the alumni's eyes. I'm embarrassed to be associated with what it's become to tell the truth.. I no longer contribute to either athletics or academics, so Illiniboard may well have the honor of being the last Illinois associated thing I'll spend money on.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but I'm both discouraged and angry.

uilaw71 on August 26, 2017 @ 03:37 AM

Stand with you, HB. We may be showing our age, but we have fought many good fights along the way. I will remain Loyal, but this is one insult too many.

MuckFichigan92 on August 26, 2017 @ 05:33 AM

Hear, hear! I loved CFB because of the traditions. My alma mater exists to concede and appease leftists. It's sports, loved by generations who are bound by tradition. Erasing the past, i.e. tradition, renders us a program without a story. Couple that with only a dismal record, what is the appeal?

mmyers74 on August 28, 2017 @ 04:21 PM

Hmmm. I love College Football, mostly, because of the football. (I also enjoy the traditions.) U of I certainly doesn't exist to concede and appease the imaginary boogeyman, known as lefty. There are people that are overly sensitive to "racist" imagery and offensive imagery... and then there are people that are just pretty decent people and care that some things (that may are may not be all that important) may or may not offend/hurt other people.

I think this train has been driven by the former (the overly sensitive), but sits pretty well with the latter.

I lean left... but played sports through college, have a family filled with veterans, and could still drop 98% of the people on this board, in a fist fight. Point being, leaning left (meaning economically conservative and morally progressive) doesn't mean you're a snowflake. And the over-simplification of a lefty and a righty (as you do here) and the ultimate dumbing down of America, is what has us in this spot we are in.

The day that people can just say... hey, I'm a Fighting Illini fan... you're a Fighting Illini fan... what the hell else matters?... will be a good day, that I look forward to.

Can't we just agree to hate Michigan?

HiggsBoson on August 28, 2017 @ 10:53 PM

Not hiring administrators from UM would be a good start. That's where we got Killeen and the Malignant Munchkin.

MuckFichigan92 on August 31, 2017 @ 08:46 AM

"I lean left and could still drop 98% of the people on this board, in a fist fight. " Good for you, Mayweather.

No, being left does not mean a person is a snowflake yet the chances are fantastically higher that he or she is. A snowflake is intolerant person who melts down, You know I could beat you up, right?, when faced with actual diversity, moreover diversity of thought.

Right and Left is merely a binary generalization, which is how sense is made of the world. The spot we are in has come, not from a dumbing down of America (you can't rape the willing), but from the left's orthodoxy: someone is always trying to keep another person down, e.g. sexism, intolerance, xenophobia, homophobia, islamophobia, racism and bigotry. The spot we are in, which includes the Indian song, is the product of the relentless pursuit of those boogeypeople (boogeyman is sexist).

I agree to hate Michigan with you, politics be damned. Buy you a pint in 2018!

bkenny on August 26, 2017 @ 05:17 AM

It's disappointing that it's going away not due to game ops awareness, but due to Chief stuff. Either way, at least 3rd downs will improve...until someone tells me to sit down for standing and clapping.

I will miss the modified version during basketball intros, coming back from timeouts, etc.

But you what sucks the most and I think is being overlooked? Drum line can't use it to bring the football team down the tunnel, stadium clapping in unison. That's a unique entrance (that incomprehensibly went away for a year or two during the Beckman years, replaced by the HS style blow up helmet, actually fitting in a way), that's our entrance.

I'm hoping they are creative enough to come up with a way to keep the entrance mostly the same and have the drum line lead. I don't know how much notice they had on this one, but they only have a week to figure it out.

Create a beat, tune, whatever. Whatever they do, for the love of God, please don't bring back the HS helmet or have them come out to Katy Perry (though if they came out to "Firework" it would be sort of an ode to Robert, eh?)

steveinseattle on August 26, 2017 @ 05:49 AM

It won't end with War Chant. The 3 in 1 is dead. After that, Oskee Wow Wow.

Then what remains?

Robert, with all due respect, you're kidding yourself if you think this administration is going to shift the athletic teams toward honoring the names on the columns or what they stood for. You can read it here first: after 3 in 1 and Oskee are gone, you can expect "Fighting" to be gone from the name. We'll be "the Illinois Illini" and that will be that.

Oh, some jerk will come up with some new "traditions" but for those of us who've been away (I started in 1990 and graduated in '94) there will be no connection to the past. Gone. And that's sad, but I for one will move on.

Get ready for some shapeless, formless thing as our new mascot. Think I exaggerate? Hardly:

Maybe we could license Grimace from McDonald's and paint him blue.

HiggsBoson on August 28, 2017 @ 10:54 PM

Then it's Fighting, and then Illini, then football because it's too violent or too American or something.

nbaxley on August 26, 2017 @ 01:59 PM

You're actually extolling the virtues of being an accepter? "Look at me, I can roll over like nobody's business". Maybe this isn't the subject to march int he streets over, but to actually be proud of the fact that you accept whatever crap is handed down to you ... I don't understand it. But yeah, you'll surely stand up when they come for the name. I'm sure it will make a difference then. Good luck with that!

CapitalCityOutlaw50 on August 26, 2017 @ 02:29 PM

Enjoy the page. Agree some, disagree less.

But the "its a crappy 3rd down song anyway" argument, I believe, misses the point entirely of what's truly going on here and why some of the "traditionalists" are upset.

The fact that we were all assured one way or another that it would start and end with the Chief, is what makes this truly a big deal to some of us who argued "slippery slope" and were summarily dismissed. It took 10 years for the next shoe to drop, and I am now more convinced than ever there will be more and more shoes to come.

ATOillini on August 26, 2017 @ 02:42 PM

Robert, I'm right there with HiggsBoson. On this Thursday I was visiting my 91 year old father in the hospital not too far from C-U in the small town where I grew up. My dad was senior basketball manager in 1950 having been in the Navy 2 years before attending UI. As a kid I remember looking forward to games and ultimately became a 3rd generation to attend this wonderful institution. While visiting my dad this Thursday afternoon his minister came to visit. We then spent the next 45 minutes discussing Illini football and basketball.....both old memories and current hopes. It was fun. Now I see this. Here's where I stand. I am absolutely sick of this nonsense (yes, it's nonsense) that I feel like John Goodman in The Big Lebowski..."Has the whole world gone crazy!?" The same type of people that handed out that flyer to you 16 years years ago will always exist. The statement you've quoted from the flyer says it all. Could a logical person truthfully make that claim? Of course not. And yet they'll never stop until they've effectively neutered the athletic department. The fact that we even have to worry about "imagery" is simply laughable. I would tell all these do-gooders to actually go out and help their fellow man in a tangible way as opposed to this joke of a cause. Pathetic.

HiggsBoson on August 28, 2017 @ 10:56 PM

Yes, the world has gone crazy. We're constantly being told we must be sensitive to anything and anyone except normal people. They don't count.

Groundhogday on August 29, 2017 @ 04:41 AM

So we shouldn't be sensitive to the fact that we were responsible for genocide, massive dispossession, and deliberate attempts to wipe out cultures? Because we are normal?

Honestly? You really don't have any concern for how native americans might feel about how those of European decent appropriate bits of their culture for our entertainment?

larue on August 30, 2017 @ 02:20 AM

Normal people?

Illinimac68 on August 26, 2017 @ 04:06 PM

  1. It needs to be repeated often that Oskee-wow-wow is neither an Indian word nor an imitation of an Indian word. The obscure second verse of the song dates it to the Theodore Roosevelt administration. It's a nonsense word in the same tradition as sis-boom-bah which you hear in the Princeton Cannon Song.
  2. When I was at Illinois in the 60s you could buy a T-shirt with a cartoon Indian, naked except for his Block I loin cloth with x'es for eyes holding a mug of beer. Since our pro-Chief narrative was that our symbol was dignified and respectful, this T-shirt needed to go. The war chant is less offensive but still pretty stereotypical Hollywood Indian and also needs to go if we really believe the Chief was respectful. Unfortunately it's no longer about refining the image -- it's about our spineless administration not drawing a line in the sand like Colonel Travis at the Alamo. Already the Tribune Illinois sports beat writer, whose name I will no longer type or utter, has called for elimination of the 3 in 1. She acknowledges that the song predates the Chief but she decries that students and fans memorialize the Chief's dance during the 3 in 1. How dare they. This is no longer about respectul dialogue if it ever was. It needs to be a good old Illinois political fight to the finish. I agree the War Chant goes. She-who-will-not-be-named and her ilk need to understand -- thus far and no further. To the barricades.

Groundhogday on August 26, 2017 @ 06:23 PM

Part of 3-in-1 predates the chief, part was written for the chief.

Illinimac68 on August 26, 2017 @ 06:36 PM

So are we to believe that native Americans have exclusive performance rights to anything up-tempo in a minor key? I still say we should be done catering to these hateful individuals.

Groundhogday on August 27, 2017 @ 12:40 AM

The music was specifically written to fit a stereotype of Indian music, for the chief's dance. Some find that offensive (not sure why you would call that hateful), others don't. Looking at how things have trended, I would assume the 3-in-1 will eventually be modified. In the larger scheme of things, this isn't a huge deal. If we can win football games, it won't be hard to develop new traditions.

Everything is secondary to winning football games.

HiggsBoson on August 28, 2017 @ 10:56 PM

Stereotype, my @$$.

Groundhogday on August 29, 2017 @ 04:33 AM

Someone types in stereo on your ass?

CapitalCityOutlaw50 on August 26, 2017 @ 08:31 PM

We had already been assured "no further."

Illinimac68 on August 26, 2017 @ 09:08 PM

We were assured years ago that the Chief was an honored symbol of the university and would not be retired.

AGig21 on August 26, 2017 @ 08:14 PM

The chief. The chant. Disappointed they’re gone? Yeah, a bit but not really that much. Those two pills are a lot easier to swallow than the mediocre teams we put on the field and court year after year. That Pill is and has been stuck in my throat and may be there for a few more years (no amount of alcohol has been able to wash them down. Believe, I’ve tried). Mascots don’t win games, conference championships and play in the post season. Players do. Buckeyes, Crimson Tide, Tar Heels, Huskies, and Wildcats don’t scare or intimidate me. Lions, Tigers and Bears do scare me and they all suck. Winning teams or at least fiercely competitive teams will create lasting memories.

1970 John on August 26, 2017 @ 08:22 PM

Do you really think you'll be able to draw a line in the sand and say this and no further? Why should they listen to you? They'll get whatever they want--just like they have--sooner or later. And what they want is everything, real or imagined.

Is Oskee-wow-wow a made of word? Of course it is. Do you want to pretend it doesn't have some Indian pretensions? Fine. It doesn't matter. They got the Chief and got the War Chant and will get it too.

The 3-in-1? If the War Chant sounds Indian, how do you think the 2 in the 3-in-1 supposed to sound. It's music for a dancing Chief. And everyone--including this year's incoming freshmen--know exactly when to say "CHIEF!" They want the 3-in-1 and they're going to get it.

Like Illinois Loyalty? It's toast. It has the "Cha-he" stuff in the middle which is clearly intended to mimic Indian chanting. Illinois Loyalty?

And "Fighting Illini"? That's the gold ring. And they'll get it, because, you know, it's insensitive. Do you think you can stop them there after they've rolled over everything else? Puleeze.

It's either dig in now or just go ahead and roll over. The momentum will be theirs. After all, you've already yielded the high ground.

And history of "Illini" and "Fighting Illini": The use of "our fighting Illini" referring to the athletic teams began at least as early as 1911. The Daily Illini was named that in 1874, and the term was used well before 1900 to refer to U of I students. Football began at Illinois in 1894, and the team didn't have a formal nickname but among other things, the team was called "Indians." Here's the full history per the second largest academic library in the United States.

Fighting this battle on technicalities isn't going to work. To say the War Chant isn't an Indian motif, or Oskee-wow-wow isn't a real Indian word is fruitless. You're going to lose with those.

The only way to "win" this is to embrace the Native American heritage, and the best way to do that is to form a bond with the Peoria, the only remaining tribe to have any claim to the Illini/Illiniwek name. It's a formula that works for Florida State...and it's the right thing to do, even if a team names, songs and images weren't affected. If it's where our hearts are, it's where our heads and hands should be as well. We call ourselves the Illini Nation. Maybe it's time to make that mean something.

Groundhogday on August 27, 2017 @ 01:17 AM

No, the "cha-hee" stuff isn't intended to mimic Indian chanting. It is just the normal sort of nonsense word you commonly find in fight songs. Ditto for Oskee. No need to make things up.

Some things CLEARLY are derived from cultural stereotypes of Indians. Some things (as you note "fighting illini") clearly are not. We can distinguish between the two.

I was a big advocate of embracing Native American heritage and aligning with a particular tribe but the lack of an "Illini" tribe apparently hurt us in that regard.

So calling ourselves the Illini nation means that we attended a strong academic institution located in central Illinois. I'd like to also be able to say that means I attended an institution that has highly competitive sports teams, and fingers crossed that will happen. Everything else is pretty superficial.

1970 John on August 27, 2017 @ 02:48 AM

There's no question that the cha-he and oskee-wow-wow are mock Native American...expressions. We thought so at my high school--mascot "Warriors", with a huge painting of a loincloth-wearing Indian straddling a campfire (is the thought "roasted nuts" comes to mind, you're not alone) still adorning the gymnasium--where we replaced "ha-ha-ha" with "ho-ho-ho." And really, it doesn't matter what you think. It doesn't matter what I think. What matters is what some retired university professor thinks. He gets to make those decisions, not you or I.

As far as "aligning" with a tribe, that's been used both ways. First, we were supposed to get approval of the Peoria, but now, apparently because there is supposedly no alignment--they thought there was, but what do they know--we're not allow the Chief because it doesn't exist. I've heard of moving the goalposts further back, but this moves them to the other end of the field.

C'mon, don't kid a kidder. We've thought of a Native American link as part of the whole Illini shtick going back to the 1870s, including referring to the football team as "Indians" even prewar--before WWI--as in the extensive research by the U of I Library document I linked. Here's that link again (link). You're whistling past the graveyard if you think you can finesse Oskee-wow-wow, Illinois Loyalty and the Three-in-One past a retired professor who's called banning War Chant as a “small but welcome step.” It's still only the beginning to Kaufman. Protestations from the administration that there's no intent to do anything about the Three-in-One, it's always with the qualifier, "at this time."

There's little that would make people like Kaufman happy, however. Look, for example, what has happened at Denver University (link) where the mascot was retired because he was white...although he continues as an "unofficial mascot," at least the last I've heard. Even bird facial expressions (link) have come under scrutiny. And sometimes, school administrators get bent out of shape over a rock (link). If you can't have a rock as your mascot...

Seriously, anything Illini-related will have to go. Oh, yeah, "March of the Illini"--part one of the Three-in-One will have to go too. You wouldn't want to disappoint retired professor Kaufman.

Groundhogday on August 27, 2017 @ 03:24 AM

It does matter what we think. And retired university professors need to make persuasive arguments to support their positions. In the case of the war chant, it is pretty darn easy to make the case it was an Indian chant.

Loyalty was written in 1906, Oskee was written in 1911, both long before Illinois used any native american symbols. We are fine. So I'm afraid you are wrong about that. There is in fact no question that they are NOT native american expressions.

1970 John on August 27, 2017 @ 04:27 PM

Ah, you didn't read the article by the Library. The Indian theme was was used by the university and students well before Oskee was written. To pretend that "Illini" is anything but a reference to the Native Americans who occupied Illinois and for whom the state was named is just flat wrong.

But beyond that, it really doesn't matter. In an era where a bust of Lincoln in Chicago is vandalized because he was a racist, or if your name is Robert Lee you're not alllowed certain jobs because it might offend someone, your opinion--unless you are an officially aggrieved party--does not indeed matter. Oskee-wow-wow, Loyalty, 3-in-1, and yes, Fighting Illini are history.

As ex-prof Kaufman said, this is a small step. He has bigger steps in mind, yes, they will keep chipping away until it's all gone.

And as for promises from the university, click this..

Groundhogday on August 27, 2017 @ 08:33 PM

From the LIbrary article:

When was the term “Illini” first applied to the University’s Athletics teams? Application of the term specifically in reference to athletic teams seems to have been first by secondhand accounts of University athletic teams. The earliest reference in the Illio appears to be one mention in the summary of the 1907 football season. The term gained greater frequency in the next decade, especially during the 1914, 1915, and 1916 football seasons. Daily Illini articles and football programs prior to these dates do not extensively cite the term, at least to the extent of our staff’s knowledge. Other terms, such as the “Indians,” “our men,” “Orange and Blue,” and the “homecomers” were sometimes applied to the team, none in a consistent fashion, except for “Illinois” and “Varsity”.

The random occasional, unofficial use of the term "Indian" does not in any way make Oskee-Wow-Wow an Indian term, any more than the random use of "our men" makes Oskee-Wow-Wow a male term.

But I see you are determined to interpret things the way you want to interpret them. (And yes, the university has and continues to lie about the use of Native American imagery. For that reason, I'm convinced the 3-in-1 will go and wonder why they don't just do it now.)

1970 John on August 28, 2017 @ 01:48 AM

But you said that there was no linkage between Illini and Native Americans. Yes, it wasn't formalized. What's your point? If there was no linkage, wouldn't Daily Illini readers go "Indians? What is he talking about?" But no, the readers knew exactly what the reference meant. The readers, like the writer, shared the common perception that Illini and Indians were one and the same.

Which is why I'm pointing out to people like you that everything will go, and trying to say that only some of the songs will go is foolish, or at best, uninformed. People should know the full extent of what this means, and base their actions on reality.

And again, those who want what they think is Native American imagery eliminated won't be deterred by facts. They're the same mindset of the vandals who defaced--literally--a bust of Lincoln "because he was a racist." Haters gonna hate.

But the Three-in-One will go, Oskee-wow-wow will go, Illinois Loyalty will go, and yes, Fighting Illini will go. And if there were any consistency, they'd change the name of the university. Is that silly? Why? It's a Native American-derived term. And it all must go.

Groundhogday on August 28, 2017 @ 09:19 PM

"Indians" in this context means fighters. Writers for any team could have referred to the guys as "Indians."

In the late 19th and early 20th century...

Indian imagery was popular with groups trying to identify themselves with heroic past traditions—for example, Boy Scout organizations, hobbyists, and athletic teams.

Illinimac68 on August 30, 2017 @ 07:26 PM

No question? No proof that cha-hee or oskee-wow-wow has anything to do with native Americans. Nonsense syllables to supply metre or rhyme have been used in Celtic music since the dawn of time. "Whack-fol-the-daddo dance to your partner round the floor your trotters shake. Wasn't it the truth I told ya lots of fun at Finnegan's wake."

dsboyce on August 27, 2017 @ 03:08 AM

I have a decent amount of Native American blood in me. Enough that it's noticeable in my facial features. As far as I'm concerned, the traditions at UI were/are respectful and honor(ed) the NA's that our state was named after. Next they will come after the 3-in-1 and Oskee Wow Wow. Eventually, the Illini name will disappear. It's sad that the administration is slowly stripping away all homage to the Illini tribes.

HiggsBoson on August 28, 2017 @ 11:02 PM

Me, too. Osage (sorry, they fought a war with the Illini once) great grandmother. I always thought The Chief was a beautiful tribute to the people the state was named for and by far the best thing about a football Saturday even if the team wasn't good. There was nothing whatsoever disrespectful about it and it always brought chills down my spine.

It's not just The Chief. There are people actively trying to drag America down into the swamp as we speak.

Groundhogday on August 29, 2017 @ 05:38 AM

I'm 1/16 Cherokee but certainly wasn't raised on a reservation. I doubt you were either. So we really don't have the right to tell native Americans that we are using their symbols respectfully. It really isn't that hard to understand.

Groundhogday on August 27, 2017 @ 03:30 AM

Taking away traditions based upon native american stereotypes --> evidence that they are likely to remove the remaining traditions based upon native american stereotypes (e.g. parts of 3-and-1).

It is NOT evidence they will eliminate traditions that have no connection to native americans (e.g. Fighting Illini, Oskee Wow Wow, Loyalty).

If you want to complain about the former, go ahead. But there is no basis to suggest that traditions will be removed when they have no connection to native americans.

dsboyce on August 27, 2017 @ 09:26 AM

Claiming that Oskee Wow Wow and the Illini name itself have no connection to Native Americans is disingenuous, at best.

Groundhogday on August 27, 2017 @ 08:40 PM

Oskee Wow Wow has no connection to Native Americans. The word "Illini" does have a native american connection in the same way that "Illinois" has a native american connection. So if we want to change the state name...

ATOillini on August 27, 2017 @ 03:37 AM

In the spirit of honorable sportsmanship and for the greater good of mankind in general why don't we just forfeit all athletic events and concede victory to the other team, since by definition the actual pursuit of winning is in and of itself clearly demeaning and thus unacceptable to someone else.

Groundhogday on August 27, 2017 @ 04:01 AM

Better still, we should react hysterically to the loss of a song.

HiggsBoson on August 28, 2017 @ 11:04 PM

Or you could just be quiet and let the adults have a conversation.

Groundhogday on August 29, 2017 @ 05:11 AM

So having a hissy fit about a song played at football games is adult behavior?

cksmeyer on August 27, 2017 @ 04:21 AM

Jokingly the "War Chant" lately for football games the past three years has been phased out not because of DIA but instead because the defense rarely forces third down! Hard to get excited when you are consistently getting blown out by all of your fellow B1G conference members. Where is the fun in that?

Cannot wait to hear the loud audio coming from the sound system of Memorial Stadium this fall on every third down the defense actually forces; with the audio reverberating across the half-empty stadium; a small audible increase in fan noise erupting in said response to loud audio playing.

Do I miss the days of Mackovic's teams decades ago leading the charge on the field and giving the crowd something to cheer about? You bet! There has been more problems Illini Nation with this program in the past than just this song.

Groundhogday on August 27, 2017 @ 08:44 PM

Shockingly, I agree with the Trib here. The university needs to quite fooling around, cut out all the native american imagery at once. Only getting rid of the chief because the NCAA required it? Pretending the war chant is eliminated because it didn't get the crowd charged up as well as the stadium board? Cut the crap. Be honest. Move on.

Here's a script for Illinois:

"We acknowledge that we have used imagery to promote our sports programs that is insensitive and misrepresents Native American culture and history. We once thought our use of a Chief mascot and war chants unified our campus. We were wrong. We apologize. We will discontinue the use of all appropriation of Native American culture for our entertainment purposes."

Rip off the Bandaid

1970 John on August 28, 2017 @ 07:13 PM

Go Groundhogs!

Groundhogday on August 29, 2017 @ 08:05 PM

Just to be clear, I really want to keep "Illini". And I don't think we need a mascot (though not completely opposed to the idea).

Groundhogday on August 28, 2017 @ 09:42 PM

Josh Whitman:

For some, Fighting Illini Athletics has been a source of division, not unity. Segments of our University have felt unwelcome at our athletic events. Regardless of whether you agree with these sentiments, at a minimum, we must acknowledge that these feelings matter. How we make people feel matters here at the University of Illinois, where we strive to be a beacon for inclusion in an increasingly polarized world...

I am one of you. And because I am one of you, I know that we are much bigger than a drumbeat. There is much more to us than that, including many other timeless traditions worth protecting. For generations, the University of Illinois has brought us together. It has helped shape our relationships, our careers, and our views on the world. All of that remains as true today as it has ever been.

DIA statement

HiggsBoson on August 28, 2017 @ 11:08 PM

Me: Bullshit. This crap isn't "inclusive", it's exclusive of normal Americans and our heritage.

By some Chapstick, Mr. Whitman. There are a whole lot more asses you're going to have to kiss, and a lot of them are pretty ugly.

In the meantime, my checkbook is permanently closed to the University of Illinois in every possible way.

Groundhogday on August 29, 2017 @ 04:32 AM

What is "normal American" heritage? A chief dancing? Indian drums?

Remarkable how fragile loyalty is for some.

steveinseattle on August 29, 2017 @ 05:42 AM

Somebody had to take one for the team and the administration figures that Whitman has enough good will stocked up with Illini fans that he can afford to deliver the bad news. Call it spending some of his capital, as it was.

The real reason why some of us are so mad about this nonsense is that we can't even watch freaking sports anymore without some clown deriding us for enjoying it. It's that simple.

RightAgain on August 29, 2017 @ 03:24 AM

The Whitman statement sounds like corporate-speak at its worst. He should have just said that his supervisors want this part of Illinois tradition gone and, even if he cared about keeping it, he did not care enough to get into trouble with them about it.

And the part about not taking the easy way out by maintaining the status quo was also corporate-speak. It reminded me of my business career when I heard the executives telling the employees that the executives had to make the "tough decision" to layoff a bunch of the employees even though it would have been easier to maintain the status quo. The employees were supposed to feel sorry for the executives who had to make the tough decision.

And "marching up the mountain together." Political speak again. Just say that the decision has been made for you Illinois fans so get on board with it, whether you like it or not.

Groundhogday on August 29, 2017 @ 04:38 AM

What he should have said, but didn't is that playing an Indian war chant at football games is offensive. Ditto for having a white guy dress up as a chief to entertain football revelers. If the DIA can just own up to some things being offensive (because we killed and dispossessed most Native Americans) then it might be possible to argue that some things are NOT offensive (e.g. "Illini"). But if the DIA is just going to respond piecemeal to hurt feelings then they probably will lose everything.

Douglascountyillinifan on August 30, 2017 @ 03:22 PM

"Playing an indian war chant at football games is offensive" To AN INCREDIBLY SMALL PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE INVOLVED. Further, to an overwhelming majority of folks in attendance, the "white guy dressed up as a chief" meant so much more than mere entertainment. That's the part that folks on your side of the issue have never acknowledged.

Sweetchuck13 on August 29, 2017 @ 01:37 PM

Personally I find the actual process of how it was clumsily announced much more troubling than the actual decision. Had Whitman come out first and announced this in the late spring or summer, when there wasn't much going on or attention on Illini sports, I don't think this gets nearly the attention compared to 1 week before the first game.

I like the song as much as anyone and it does get me fired up, but I can see the point. But if they go after "Fighting Illini" or even the 3-in-1 I'll be much more upset.

Finally, I'm most curious about how the team will enter the field on Saturday. This was actually my favorite part of the "war chant" usage - having the drumline slowly lead the team out of the tunnel. I'm assuming that's also gone now, so hopefully they come up with something new that can get people excited - and maybe more upbeat.

2011 Drumline Entrance

thumpasaurus on August 29, 2017 @ 04:29 PM

my god this comment section is full of spiders.

if it's really impossible for you to cope emotionally with going to illini games now, just put a recording of "war chant" on your phone, pop in an earbud on one or both sides, and play it when we force a third down.

smooothlikebutta on August 30, 2017 @ 11:42 PM







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