Letter to the Editor:

By Chris Castle

To the Daily Illini Editorial Staff and Readership:

I am responding to The Daily Illini article, “The Chief: An Unspoken Presence.” First, I would like to address the claim that Ivan Dozier was once a member of the Native American House as a freshman. The Native American House (NAH) is a cultural center funded by the University as part of OIIRJT. As a cultural center, NAH welcomes all students. There are three full-time staff members. There is no such thing as membership.

The Illiniwek were not a tribeJT. Illini was a French word describing the people in this region who spoke similar languagesJT. The current Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma consists of the Peoria, Wea, Piankeshaw, and Kaskaskia tribes from this region who banded together during their relocationJT. I know the current Chief of the Peoria Tribe, Chief John FromanJT. He is an elected official who cares about the future of his people. He is also an avid golfer and devoted grandfather. He can be seen wearing a suit or a polo shirt at work — never a war bonnet.

I would also like to address Ivan Dozier’s claim to be a representative of Native American cultures. I am also of Cherokee descent. My great grandmother recalled knowing elders who walked the Trail of Tears. My brother was born in an Indian hospital in Oklahoma. Most of my father’s side of the family are registered members of the Cherokee Nation. Despite all of these things, I cannot represent the views or culture of anyone other than myself and my own family. I cannot speak for the Cherokee and I certainly cannot speak for any other tribal nations. We should all respect how a person identifies his or her heritage, but a claim to heritage in one tribe does not entitle a person to define the cultures of other tribes.

Very Respectfully,? Chris Castle?

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President, Native American & Indigenous Student OrganizationJT