The Olgala Sioux Tribe demanded the return of the Chief Illiniwek costume from the University of Illinois Thursday, according to the Chicago Tribune, apparently as a result of its extreme embarassment to be associated with the Big Ten's worst football program. Zing!
The Tribune says the Sioux garb was "donated" (for a mere $3,500) at a halftime ceremony in 1982 by 93-year-old Sioux Chief Frank Fools Crow and a "medicine man." It doesn't say what the South Dakota-based tribe could possibly have to do with Illinois in the first place, which is one of the complaints the tribe's resolution addresses, aside from generally feeling, "[t]he antics of persons playing 'Chief Illiniwek' perpetuate a degrading racial stereotype that reflects negatively on all American Indian people." As does the incredibly bad performance of the Illini team under Coach [Redacted]. Aw, snap!
A spokesman from the university's "Council of Chiefs" - 27 former mascots - said the school still has an original suit it used before the Olgala tribe donated the current version, much as the university still has its tradition of consistent Big Ten success from 1914-28 under coach Robert C. Zuppke. Burn! The same spokesman called the request "disappointing," the same sentiment expressed by administration over falling attendance at Memorial Stadium - Bam! - and admitted being close to tears, mirroring the feeling fans have felt throughout the football team's 5-18 run under [Redacted]. Ooooh! The donated Olgala suit consisted of "moccasins, blanket, peace pipe pouch, breastplate and war bonnet with 90 eagle feathers," the last of which were replaced in 1990 with "painted turkey feathers," according to the Tribune's citing of the school's Web site. That switch happened to correspond with the last time the Illini won, or came close to winning, the Big Ten (the 2001 outlier screws up the rhythm here, so shaddup, spoilsports!). Last Spring, the NCAA declared the imagery "hostile and abusive," which is also how Illinois fans describe the 39.5 percent completion rate of freshman quarterback "Juice" Williams. Oh, no he did'n!
Illinois football: it's a crying shame.
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