University grad. guilty in American Indian art theft

The seventh and most recent incident of vandalism at the University Native American House has come full course.

University graduate student, Mark Neperman, who stole two signs from the Native American House’s “Beyond the Chief” exhibit on June 13 plead guilty to a misdemeanor theft in Champaign County Circuit Court on Wednesday.

He was sentenced to a year of supervision, a $200 dollar fine and 100 hours of community service.

According to the Champaign Circuit Court, the case is still being processed.

The art exhibit is composed of a series of signs surrounding the Native American House and was designed by a Cheyenne-Arapaho artist, Edgar Heap of Birds. Since the exhibit was put up in early February, it has been repeatedly vandalized, causing the University to install surveillance cameras.

The Native American House had no comment on the plea as of Thursday evening.

Neperman has apologized for the incident in early July with a letter to The News-Gazette.

The eradication of the Chief still sparks some controversy on campus, but others may be moving on.

“At this point, I don’t really think about it too much,” said Jessica Lucas, a recent graduate. “I feel like most people have grown to accept it by now.”

Some students are still protesting.

The Native American House has encouraged open dialogue about the issue rather than vandalism or any other form of destruction.

“All [vandalism] does is hurt the person that believes in the cause,” Lucas said.

“But I think people have a right to their opinion,” she added.

“Fighting Illini” is printed backwards on the signs in order to encourage passersby to reflect on the Native American’s history and the history of the land, yet many students do not understand the significance.

“I don’t really understand them,” Lucas said. “Maybe is they had an explanation of what the artwork means— obviously it’s about Native Americans, but I think people would understand them more.”