Is the Chief racist?

By Kevin Meier

The recent events of banning Chief Illiniwek to dance anymore at the University of Illinois have just gone to show why we have so many problems in our world.

This debate has shown that racism is still a very big problem in our country … and the sad part is, it will forever be when we view so many things that way. I can understand those of Native American descent being offended, but why?

Why do they choose to view the Chief as such a hostile and offensive symbol? The first time I had the honor of seeing the Chief dance I was moved. The audience came together, clapped as he danced and crossed their arms in a salute only to be silent as he exited the arena.

I instantly realized why he has been here for 81 years. With these recent debates it seems that too many people have forgotten this. Are people just stuck in their ways, refusing to break on through to the other side? I want the Chief to stay forever, and in some ways I know he will.

The Chief will be in our hearts, our minds, and our spirits forever. His message has touched thousands if not millions. I know the Chief has increased my spirit here at the University and made me better myself. I can only imagine he has done the same for many more. This is why it truly is a shame that we are about to lose him over what some see as racism.

Some say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and now I’m beginning to think the same may apply here. I, a person of Irish decent, can look at a student dressed as an Irishman running around during a sporting event and stop to take the time to analyze what is wrong about that, but what will that accomplish? Racism, like everything else in this world, was made by man. I myself must choose to be offended by that man in green even though he does not harm me in any way, shape or form.

In order to defeat this beast we all must understand that we all have something different to offer the world. This land was once that of Native Americans and settlers came only to take that away from them. Chief Illiniwek should not be taken away now that so many have been moved by him.

We cannot keep debating what is right and what is wrong when race comes to play. Everyone will possess their own opinions and that is what must be accepted.

I can only hope to see that an individual who takes the time and effort to understand a culture and open the minds of others by performing an amazing dance for us is not silenced, for then we are silencing the movement to rid racism from our daily lives and I do not believe that is what those who are against Chief Illiniwek truly want.

Kevin Meier

junior in AHS