Monday, December 15, 2003

The Squabbling Illini: Rallying Cries Lead to Rift

URBANA, Ill. — The history books say the last Indian tribe in Illinois was forcibly relocated to Kansas and then Oklahoma early in the 19th century. But there is one Indian left, according to members of the Honor the Chief Society: Chief Illiniwek.

A debate over whether mascots with Indian themes are offensive or harmless has played out on college campuses and at professional stadiums for more than two decades. But there is something singular here, a fierce loyalty to a student in war paint that makes the hair stand on grown men's forearms. The passions aroused by the chief also make the great-great-granddaughter of Sitting Bull, a junior at Illinois, fear for her safety.