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CricketHill 01-18-2007 03:31 PM

Tribe demands return of Illiniwek regalia
Tribe demands return of Illiniwek regalia

By Michelle S. Keller
Tribune staff reporter

January 18, 2007, 1:15 PM CST

The Oglala Sioux Tribe today demanded the University of Illinois return
Lakota regalia worn by Chief Illiniwek, the school's controversial

In a resolution presented to the U. of I. board of trustees, the
president and the chancellor, the tribe called for the university to
"cease use of
this mascot."

The "Oglala regalia is being misused to represent 'Chief Illiniwek,'"
and is a
"disrespectful representation" of the people of the Kaskaskia, Peoria,
and Wea nations, according to the resolution. "The antics of persons
'Chief Illiniwek' perpetuates a degrading racial stereotype that
reflects negatively
on all American Indian people."

The regalia itself is not even like that worn by the tribe Chief
Illiniwek is
supposed to have come from, said Malvin Young Bear, cultural liaison to
President William Brewer of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

The use of the costume by Chief Illiniwek is insulting to the tribe,
because the ceremonial dress "was a significant honor to wear," Young

"That's something you earn, as a provider and a protector," he said.
"There's a
lot of spiritualism and a lot of traditional value by the people who
actually wore
it at that time."

The use of the mascot in general is a "slap in the face" to American
Young Bear added.

In September 1982, Sioux Chief Frank Fools Crow presented the
university with
the regalia — which had been hand-crafted by the chief's wife —
during a
halftime ceremony, according to the Chief Illiniwek Educational
Foundation, an
organization founded by four students in 1998. According to the
resolution, Mel
Lone Hill, a descendant of Fools Crow, wants the regalia returned to
his family.

The American Indian Studies faculty and the staff at the Native
American House
at the university welcomed the resolution.

"There can be no misreading of the Oglala Sioux Resolution — those to
the Lakota regalia belongs and whom the board of trustees claims to be
honoring have clearly requested that the performance and charade of
Illiniwek' end," the Native American House said in a statement released

Faculty member Stephen Kaufman, who has spoken out against the use of
mascot, said he hoped this latest development would prompt officials to
Chief Illiniwek.

"I hope they realize the continued harm they are inflicting on the
university, its
students, alumni and sports program by their failure to remove
Illiniwek and by
their failure to promote a campus that encourages racial equity,"
Kaufman said
via email.

In 2000, the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma passed a similar
calling for the University of Illinois to cease using Chief Illiniwek
as a "mascot."

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

Historian 01-22-2007 11:11 AM

University: Illiniwek feathers returned
by The Associated Press
Rapid City Journal - 22 January 2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. The chairman of the University of Illinois board of trustees says the school will decide this year whether to continue its use of the Chief Illiniwek mascot. But the ongoing controversy yielded a new mystery this week: What became of two sets of eagle feathers associated with the costume?

The Oglala Sioux tribe last week demanded that the university return the mascots costume, which was sold to the school by past Sioux elder Frank Fools Crow and included eagle feathers considered sacred to American Indians.

Fools Crows wife had made the costume and the university bought it, minus the headdress, in 1982. A feathered headdress was loaned to the school, University Associate Chancellor Robin Kaler said Friday.

The eagle feathers since have been replaced by turkey feathers.

Kaler said the headdress that included the eagle feathers was shipped in 1991 to a member of the tribe, Anthony Whirlwind Horse, who had agreed to get them to a descendant of Fools Crow.

In a 1991 letter to Whirlwind Horse, a copy of which was given Friday to The Associated Press, then-Associate Chancellor Judith Rowan thanked him for having found Fools Crows daughter.

Kaler said another set of feathers were sent at some point to Fools Crow to rework another headdress, but the university isnt sure where they are.

Another 1991 letter from Rowan, this one to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, indicates they may have been lost. The federal agency enforces a law that prohibits the sale of eagle feathers.

The death of Chief Fools Crow last year leads me to believe that this mystery is likely to remain unsolved, Rowan wrote in 1991.

Eileen Janis, the administrative assistant to tribal President John Steele, said Friday that the Oglala Sioux tribe doesnt believe it received the feathers. Whirlwind Horse was a tribe member, she said, and worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs before his death. She wasnt sure when he died.

The South Dakota-based tribes three-member executive council made its demands in a resolution to the university board of trustees.

The tribes resolution says that a grandson of Fools Crow, Mel Lone Hill, said he never liked the way the regalia was used.

A number of messages left at Oglala Sioux offices in Pine Ridge, S.D., for Lone Hill and members of the executive committee Thursday and Friday were not returned.

But Lone Hill told The (Champaign) News-Gazette that the regalia was a gift to the school from his grandfather, something he otherwise would have inherited.

It didnt come from the tribe, it came from my grandfather, he told the paper.

The Sioux resolution was delivered to the board ahead of its Thursday meeting in Chicago.

Board Chairman Lawrence C. Eppley opened Thursdays meeting by reading a list of priorities for the university system for this year, among them resolution of the long-standing controversy over Illiniwek.

The NCAA considers the use of the Illiniwek mascot and the dance performed by the students who portray the chief to be hostile and abusive toward American Indians. The Illini have been barred by the NCAA since 2005 from hosting postseason sports.

The mascot issue has received renewed attention in recent weeks after an American Indian student at the university was threatened on a Web site devoted to defending the use of the chief mascot. The university has said it is investigating.

billyjoejimbob 01-22-2007 05:30 PM

Two sides to every story.

Mr.Fools Crow sold the outfit to the school. Did he know what is was going to be used for and how?

Now his grandson wants it back.

I can understand if it was Fools Crow OWN outfit, but they made it and sold it to the school.

Dont get me wrong, I would like to have my grandfathers stuff, but if my grandfather sold it....he sold it. If he wanted me to have it he would have given it to me.

So just keep an open mind, the school may be wrong for the stupid mascot stuff, but they didnt take advantage of an NDN. Mr. Fools Crow walked away with $3500 25 years ago. Im sure that $3500 was used for far greater purposes.

How much did the museum in DC pay for that womans trad dress? Will her grandkids want it back in 25 years?

dmoccasin 01-29-2007 01:33 PM

Illiniwek regalia
There are many issues to this story.

Follow the money-did the university inventory the items that were purchased? What items are currently in the possession of the mascot? What is the chain of command for the previous mascots? Are there pictures of the original regalia?

Claims to the items-is there only one remaining descendent of Fools Crow? In the white mans world if items are sold for a value they are then sold back at todays price. In essence money talks.

Sacred eagle feathers-eagle feathers are protected by federal laws and are binding. There are processes in place to address this issue of selling eagle feathers.

This will be a continual story.

My 2 cents


Historian 01-29-2007 10:54 PM

Sioux request prompts look at history of Chief Illiniwek garb
By Julie Wurth
The News-Gazette - 27 January 2007

URBANA, IL The University of Illinois has already returned the eagle-feather headdress made by an Oglala Sioux elder for Chief Illiniwek in the early 1980s, UI officials say.

Documents provided by the UI indicate that the headdress made by Frank Fools Crow was mailed back to Sioux Chief Anthony Whirlwind Horse in 1991.

A resolution from the Oglala Sioux Tribal Nation's executive committee in South Dakota asked the UI last week to return the buckskin regalia and eagle feathers used in the headdress. The resolution also demanded that the UI end the Chief Illiniwek dance.

Trustees have yet to respond, UI spokesman Tom Hardy and an Oglala Sioux spokeswoman said Thursday.

UI President B. Joseph White did ask his staff last week to research the background of all Chief regalia acquired over the years.

According to UI documents, the bonnet-style headdress made by Frank Fools Crow was returned to his daughter in June, 1991.

"It was a great honor for us, and we return it with gratitude to his family," former Associate Chancellor Judith Rowan wrote to Sioux Chief Anthony Whirlwind Horse in May 1991.

An undated shipping invoice shows the bonnet was shipped via UPS to Whirlwind Horse.

Also in May 1991, Rowan wrote to the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, stating that the headdress had been returned to the Sioux tribe. The headdress was officially on loan to the UI because federal laws protecting eagles prohibit anyone except American Indians from owning eagle feathers.

In any event, Chief Illiniwek never used it: The headdress was too short and was missing some feathers, officials said.

At some point, the UI sent Fools Crow 25 eagle feathers from an older headdress to fashion a longer "tail" for his bonnet, but it was never completed. UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler said officials believe the feathers were lost in a fire at Fools Crow's home a few years before he died in 1989.

Former Marching Illini Director Gary Smith, who arranged the 1982 purchase, said Fools Crow told him the feathers were stolen out of his truck.

Fools Crow's grandson, Melvin Lone Hill, was traveling this week and could not be reached for comment. He acknowledged in a Chicago Tribune story last week that he had received the headdress but would still like to get the rest of the regalia back, offering to pay if needed.

But tribal spokeswoman Eileen Janis, administrative assistant to tribal President John Yellowbird Steele, said she was not aware it had been returned. Janis, who drafted the resolution, said she considered suggesting the UI put the regalia in a museum but deferred to Lone Hill's desire to have it returned.

The regalia made by Fools Crow was the fourth set used by Chief Illiniwek and the third bought by the UI. If it were returned to the tribe, Chief Illiniwek would still have one complete set of regalia to use, documents show.

Current Chief Dan Maloney still wears the tunic and leggings from the Fools Crow regalia. Assistant Chief Logan Ponce wears a tunic and leggings made by an "expert in Indian lore" in 1967, along with the gloves made by Fools Crow.

Both wear turkey-feather headdresses made by a Tolono man in 1992. Other Chief Illiniwek items chokers, breast plates, another set of gloves were made by others throughout the years.

The UI also has the Chief ensemble that the second Chief Illiniwek, Webber Borchers, bought in 1930 from the Oglala Sioux, before the laws governing eagle feathers took effect. That eagle-feather headdress remains in storage at the UI athletic department.

The tunic and leggings were on display at the Sousa Museum at the Harding Band Building until about a year ago, when curators decided they were deteriorating and should be placed in protective storage.

Smith, a staunch Chief Illiniwek supporter, said he understands why Lone Hill would like the 1982 regalia back in his family.

"I was surprised we got it to begin with," Smith said. "It is authentic, and it has historical value. I'm sensitive to their feelings about this. It should be given back to them as far as I'm concerned. It's more important for them to have it than us. We can always have another one made."

According to News-Gazette and Alumni Association files, Borchers and Smith contacted the Sioux in late 1981 to see if they could make a new set of regalia for the Chief.

Smith said tribal leaders suggested he talk to Fools Crow, a Sioux medicine man, who wanted to sell one of his two handmade chief outfits. Smith said he was told Fools Crow was "destitute" and the UI could help by buying the outfit for $3,500.

"It was just a work of art," Smith said. "I notified the university that I thought this would be a tremendous purchase."

UI alumnus Robert Eisner funded the purchase in May 1982, according to News-Gazette files.

"By collectors, it would draw many thousands more," Smith wrote in a 1982 letter to supporters.

Smith then invited Fools Crow, elected Oglala Chief Joe American Horse and Whirlwind Horse, who was superintendent of the Bureau for Indian Affairs in South Dakota, to officially present the regalia during halftime of a home football game the next fall.

Ralph Senn and Joe Ream, owners of Garcia's Pizza, flew the men here in their private plane, Smith said.

Fools Crow spoke only in his native language, Smith said. When Smith asked Fools Crow what he thought of the dance, American Horse said the response was difficult to translate, but he felt it had "an awful lot of body English," Smith recalled. "It's not authentic, but he understands it's a theatrical demonstration, with a great deal added to make it visible. But he said he was OK with it."

Smith firmly believes Chief Illiniwek had tribal leaders' approval.

"Not only would they not have sold me the outfit, but they wouldn't have come here to present it to us with their blessings," said Smith, who grew to be friends with Fools Crow.

But Janis, the Sioux spokeswoman, said the tribe has never officially condoned Chief Illiniwek. She expects the resolution to win full tribal approval next week.

"The feeling is unanimous," she said. "We would like to see it stopped."

She said the Chief's regalia is traditional in style but his dance is more of a "fancy dance. That is a lot more steps, a lot more movement," she said. "A traditional dance is very reserved.

"I've seen it on TV. That isn't our dance. It's certainly not our traditional way."

Smith said American Horse was more concerned with stereotypical Hollywood movies and caricatures like the Cleveland Indians' logo. He said American Horse told him the UI performance had no religious connotations and was a "social-type dance." In fact, many non-natives were participating in dances at the powwows he attended with American Horse.

"He thought it was helpful for people to learn about their culture, their traditions, their heritage," Smith said.



First Chief Illiniwek, Lester Leutwiler, makes first costume and three headdresses. At least two use eagle feathers.


Second Chief, Webber Borchers, buys new set of regalia for UI from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation with financial support from Isaac Kuhn. Includes headdress with 91 eagle feathers, tunic, breast plate, leggings and moccasins. Set is used for 37 years.


UI buys second set of regalia, consisting of shirt and pants, from "expert in Indian lore." Webber Borchers headdress reworked and reused.


U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife approves "loan" of eagle feathers to university for "educational and exhibit purposes," to bring UI into compliance with eagle-protection laws that allow only American Indians to own eagle feathers (for religious purposes).

May 1982

Marching Illini Director Gary Smith and Assistant Athletic Director Tom Porter meet with Oglala Sioux elder Frank Fools Crow and other tribal leaders to discuss acquiring new set of regalia. Smith requests $3,500 from UI supporters to pay for set hand-made by Fools Crow and his wife, calling it "priceless." UI alumnus Robert Eisner funds purchase and donates it to UI Foundation. Letter written later clarifies headdress is on loan to UI.

September 1982

Marching Illini announce that Chief Illiniwek will begin using new regalia: tunic, leggings, moccasins, breast plate and headdress with 28 golden eagle tail feathers. But bonnet-style headdress is too short, so it is never used by the Chief.

Fall 1982

Frank Fools Crow, Chief Anthony Whirlwind Horse and Chief Joe American Horse visit UI for official presentation ceremony.

July 1983

Leutwiler says he is donating original set of regalia to UI.

August 1987

UI President Stanley Ikenberry writes to Oglala Sioux Council asking that someone complete project to add tail to Fools Crow bonnet-style headdress, using 25 eagle feathers sent earlier by UI. Project is never completed; feathers either stolen or lost in a fire at Fools Crow's home.


Frank Fools Crow dies.

October 1990

UI acquires two new headdresses made of turkey feathers, created by Roy Hanks of Tolono.

January 1991

Letter sent to Chief Anthony Whirlwind Horse, explaining that UI wants to return bonnet-style headdress to Fools Crow's family.

May 1991

Letter from Associate Chancellor Judith Rowan indicates that Whirlwind Horse has arranged for headdress to be returned to Fools Crow's daughter that June. Voucher shows "bonnet" is subsequently shipped there.


Rowan sends letter to Department of Fish and Wildlife, stating that 25 eagle feathers once at UI were returned to Fools Crow and that headdress was returned to Whirlwind Horse. UI still has Webber Borchers' headdress, which is grandfathered in under federal eagle-protection act.


Leutwiler now in possession of all three of his original headdresses, although they are on display at the Illini Union a year later. He dies Feb. 10, 1993.


Only remaining headdress with eagle feathers, from Borchers' regalia, stored at Swanlund Administration Building. It is moved to UI athletic department in 2003.


Borchers regalia (aside from headdress) stored at Sousa Archives in Harding Band Building; later regalia, from 1982 and 1967, still in use by current Chief Illiniwek and assistant Chief. Leutwiler regalia assumed to be in Leutwiler family's possession.

January 2007

Executive committee of Oglala Sioux Tribal Nation asks UI to return 1982 regalia to Fools Crow's grandson, Mel Lone Hill, and stop using Chief Illiniwek.

Sources: UI Archives, UI Alumni Association, News-Gazette archives and interviews

Historian 02-17-2007 08:42 AM

University of Illinois says Chief Illiniwek's performances to end
By David Mercer, Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press - 16 February 2007

URBANA, Ill. (AP) -The University of Illinois will retire its 81-year-old American Indian mascot, Chief Illiniwek, following the last men's home basketball game of the season on Wednesday.

The NCAA in 2005 deemed the buckskin-clad Illiniwek an offensive use of American Indian imagery and barred the university from hosting postseason events.

American Indian groups and others complained for years that the mascot, used since 1926, is demeaning. Supporters of the mascot say it honors the contributions of American Indians to Illinois.

Illinois still will be able to use the name Illini because it's short for Illinois and the school can use the term Fighting Illini, because it's considered a reference to the team's competitive spirit, school officials said. It is unclear if the school will get a new mascot.

"This is an extremely emotional day for people on both sides of the issue, but the decision announced today ends a two-decade-long struggle surrounding Chief Illiniwek on this campus,'' said athletic director Ron Guenther.

"Personally, as an alumnus and former athlete, I am disappointed. However, as an administrator, I understand the decision that had to be made.''

School officials said they received a letter from the NCAA on Thursday that said the school will no longer be banned from hosting postseason events if it drops the mascot and related American Indian imagery. The NCAA's sanctions thus far have prevented Illinois from hosting postseason events in two low-profile sports.

"The Chief Illiniwek tradition inspired and thrilled members of the University of Illinois community for 80 years,'' board of trustees chairman Lawrence Eppley said Friday. "It was created, carried on and enjoyed by people with great respect for tradition, and we appreciate their dedication and commitment. It will be important now to ensure the accurate recounting and safekeeping of the tradition as an integral part of the history of the university.''

On Friday, a Champaign County Circuit Court judge rejected two students' request for a court order banning the university from "capitulating to the NCAA by announcing the retirement of Chief Illiniwek.''

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