Fighting Illini


 Long before I immersed myself in higher education in big, bad, beautiful Noo Yawk,  I began my undergraduate education at 16 in Champaign—Urbana. 

Although not a sports fan, I attended the home football games mainly for the spectacle——the best was half time.  And truly the best of that was Chief Illiniwek's triumphant dance; respectful and stirring it always brought the crowd to its feet in a thrilling finale no matter how the fighting Illini football team performed on the field..
The state of Illinois is named after the Illini tribe which I believe lived mainly in central Illinois near what is now the home of the main campus of the U of I.  Belittling Chief Illinwek is belittling the heritage and name of the earliest inhabitants; eliminating him is eliminating the early history of the region. In an alumni poll I voted to retain Chief Illiniwek. 
I have a sense that those who want to get rid of Chief Illiniwek are the snobby elites who don't care for sports; the type of people who smugly talk about their concerns for the "little people" but don't understand them, or even like them and their lifestyle, such as interest in sports.  Thus these self important elites don't identify with a team or understand the loyal passions teams evoke, they can only identify with some abstract oppressed, helpless minority who can only be helped by their smug actions.
Ethel Fenig  3 16 05