Pro-Chief billboard to remain for a year

By Heather Schlitz, Assistant News Editor

A pro-Chief billboard saying, “The Chief, yesterday, today, forever” erected in early May on Springfield Avenue is expected to remain up for a year.

John Gadau, personal injury attorney, University alumnus and Chief supporter, said he put up the billboard following years of frustration at the University’s decision to retire the Chief as an official mascot.

“The Chief should come back,” Gadau said. “I want there to be an expression to the people at the University of Illinois that (the University administration) are not going to steamroll everybody.”

Compounding that, he said, was the removal of official Chief regalia and mentions of the Chief from official University websites.

They want to chip away until there’s no memory of Chief Illiniwek,” Gadau said.

Though the Chief was retired in 2007 after an NCAA ruling against “hostile and abusive Native American nicknames,” unofficial appearances by the Chief often occur during University events.

The Peoria tribe of Indians of Oklahoma did not support the portrayal of the Chief and critics have called the mascot a form of cultural appropriation.

Gadau said he has received a largely positive reaction to the billboard and plans to engage in more efforts to promote the Chief.

A University spokeswoman did not respond at the time of publication.

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