Saturday, February 17, 2007

Stanford, Illinois, and Indians

Of the use of the name "Indian" at Stanford University, Stanford officially adopted the Indian nickname on Nov. 25, 1930 after a unanimous vote by the Executive Committee for the Associated Students. The Indian had long been considered the symbol of Stanford before the official vote, although its origins are only speculation.

The resolution that was passed read: "Whereas the Indian has long been unofficially recognized as the symbol of Stanford and its spirit, and whereas there has never been any official designation of a Stanford symbol, be it hereby resolved that the Executive Committee adopt the Indian as the symbol of Stanford."

The Indian symbol was eventually dropped in 1972 following meetings between Stanford native American students and President Richard Lyman. The 55 students, supported by the other 358 American Indians enrolled in California colleges, felt the mascot was an insult to their culture and heritage. As a result of these talks and the ensuing publicity, the Stanford Student Senate voted 18-4 to drop the Indian symbol, and Lyman agreed.

The first student referendum on the issue was held in May, 1972, and it resulted in a vote of 1,755 for and 1,298 against restoring the Indian. The second vote, on Dec. 3-4, 1975, was 885 for and 1,915 against.

There was a move to reinstate the Indian as the school mascot in 1975. The debate was put to vote along with new suggestions: Robber Barons, Sequoias, Trees, Cardinals, Railroaders, Spikes, and Huns. None of the suggestions were accepted. [This text is taken directly from the Stanford Athletics Website.]

Of the matter at University of Illinois, AP reported:

American Indian groups and others complained for years that the mascot [Chief Illiniwek], used since 1926, is demeaning. Supporters of the mascot say it honors the contributions of American Indians to Illinois.

The NCAA in 2005 deemed the buckskin-clad Illiniwek an offensive use of American Indian imagery and barred the university from hosting postseason events.

The University of Illinois will retire its 81-year-old American Indian mascot, Chief Illiniwek, following the last men's home basketball game of the season on Wednesday {Feb. 21, 2007, 35 years after Stanford retired the Indian name).

The AP report noted: On Friday [Feb. 16, 2007], a Champaign County Circuit Court judge rejected two students' request for a court order banning the university from "capitulating to the NCAA by announcing the retirement of Chief Illiniwek."

Of some relevance is the essay "Indians" and Animals: A Comparative Essay." Recall there once were the Dartmouth Indians and there still are the Florida State Seminoles (and Chief Osceola).


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