The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) recently contacted the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign about their mascot and the effects of stereotyped Native imagery on Native American and non-native American youth. The University retired its former mascot, Chief Illiniwek, in 2007 under pressure from the National Collegiate Athletics Association. However, harmful images associated with the former mascot continue to persist on campus to this day. The use of Native mascots and imagery negatively affects the psychological well-being and educational experiences of both Native American and non-native youth. These mascots perpetuate stereotypes, create a hostile learning environment, and undermine the self-esteem of Native American youth.
In short, schools with Native American mascots and imagery miseducate their students and
encourage their students and faculty to remain uninformed about the realities of Native Americans,
and more generally about the shared history between Native and non-Native Americans. NARF is supportive of a complete replacement for the University’s “Indian” mascot and urges the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to prioritize this matter. Read our full statement below: