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The Struggle for Chief Illiniwek Imagine going to a University of Illinois sporting event and not seeing Chief Illiniwek perform at half time This may soon be the case Many Native Americans feel that the symbol of Chief Illiniwek portrays a racist stereotype but because Chief Illiniwek represents the pride for athletics as well as respect for the University of Illinois itself he should not be dismissed as mascot and swapped with some common unoriginal replacement The dismissal of the chief would be an outrage The tradition of Chief Illiniwek was started on October 30 1926 during a football game against the University of PennsylvaniaBeckham 1 Also according to Beckham Lester Leutweiler who portrayed the first Chief Illiniwek was chosen because he had studied Native American dance and leather work as a boy scout Leutweiler made the first Chief Illiniwek custom and created the first dance1 Of all the students that have portrayed Chief Illiniwek only one was a female The second student who portrayed Chief Illiniwek was Webber Borchers Borchers was the first student who portrayed the chief to wear an authentic Native American outfit He traveled to a South Dakota reservation where he stayed for a couple months and an elderly Native American woman and her apprentice hand crafted the outfit for him On September 25 1982 Sioux Chief Frank Fools Crow traveled to the University of Illinois with fellow Sioux elders Anthony Whirlwind Horse and Joe American HorseWelker 1 Chief Frank Fools Crow was considered the greatest Native American spiritual leader of the nineteenth century During half time ceremony Chief Fools Crow gave the University of Illinois the regalia that are currently worn by Chief IlliniwekWelker 1 The regalia were Chief Fools Crows own which was handcrafted by his wife Many say Chief Fools Crow was proud to present the University of Illinois with the gift because his work and his wifes would be shared and be seen by many
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