Chiefs start scholarship

Thomas Shortbull, president of Oglala Lakota College, removes his tie which he would give to Tom Livingston, a former portrayer of Chief Illiniwek. Laura Prusik

Adam Babcock

Thomas Shortbull, president of Oglala Lakota College, removes his tie which he would give to Tom Livingston, a former portrayer of Chief Illiniwek. Laura Prusik

By Megan Kelly

The Council of Chiefs, the former portrayers of Chief Illiniwek, and the Honor the Chief Society announced plans to create a scholarship named after Frank Fools Crow during a luncheon in Champaign on Saturday.

Fools Crow was the Oglala Sioux elder from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. In 1982 he created the most recent Chief Illiniwek headdress and buckskin outfit, the future of which remains uncertain.

The $10,000 scholarship will benefit the students of Oglala Lakota College at the Pine Ridge Reservation in the third poorest county in the country, said Thomas Short Bull, president of the college.

“Our students come from the poorest of the poor,” he said. “The typical student is a female, unwed mother with one or two children and trying to improve their lives.”

Short Bull plans to put the scholarship into an endowment fund and use the interest it accrues annually to assist students with either tuition or living costs.

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    Those in attendance at the luncheon included Short Bull, several former portrayers of the Chief, Honor the Chief Society members, Students for Chief Illiniwek members and state Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet. Although there was a place set for him, Chancellor Richard Herman was not present.

    The idea for the scholarship originated after Chief Illiniwek was retired last winter. Following the decision, Short Bull suggested to Tom Livingston, who portrayed Chief Illiniwek in 1988 and 1989, that the Council of Chiefs begin a scholarship in memory of Fools Crow.

    “We as chiefs thought it would be meaningful, appropriate and the right thing to do to honor the man who is not only the champion of his people, but the champion of education,” Livingston said.

    To show his appreciation, Short Bull officially gave Livingston the name “the chief with a good heart.”

    When the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s president, John Steele, heard about the decision, he requested that the regalia be returned to the tribe to be preserved and kept in perpetuity for future generations.

    At the present time, the regalia cannot be returned to the Oglala Sioux because it is legally the property of the state of Illinois. In July, Rose received a report prepared by the General Assembly’s Legislative Research Unit which explored the issue and found that the state ultimately held control over the Chief regalia. Rose did not release the report until last month.

    Although Short Bull and the Oglala Sioux Tribal Nation would like to see the regalia returned to them, their final resting place is still uncertain.

    “It belongs in a permanent display accompanying some sort of historical perspective showing Frank Fools Crow and talking about who he was and what his accomplishments were,” said Dan Maloney, graduate student and the last person to portray the Chief.

    Joe Stanfa, an Honor the Chief Society member, also thinks the regalia belong in a permanent display, inside the Illini Union.

    “It belongs to the University and should be proudly displayed in the Union,” he said. “The regalia is a good remembrance of the Chief and is a bright and proud spot for the University.”

    Roger Huddleston, president and co-founder of the Honor the Chief Society recognizes the future of the regalia is up to the University administration, but believes it belongs to the tribe.

    “It’s part of their national treasure and means something so precious to them,” he said. “I think that common sense and honor will take hold and an honorable transfer will occur.”