Smile Politely

Association on American Indian Affairs endorses kingfisher as new U of I mascot

A drawing of a belted kingfisher pictured from the side, holding a football in one wing and holding its other wing out in front as if rushing a football down a field. The bird is blue and orange
The Kingfisher UIUC on Facebook

The Association on American Indian Affairs, the “oldest non-profit serving Indian Country protecting sovereignty, preserving culture, educating youth and building capacity,” has joined the National Congress of American Indians, University of Illinois faculty senate and student body in calling for a replacement mascot. In a letter sent to the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees, the AAIA echoes the sentiment and language of the letter sent to the Chancellor and Board by the NCAI, and draws attention to the harm done by waiting more than a decade to replace the racist former mascot with a new one. 

This excerpt from the letter is particularly poignant, emphasis mine:

We understand that it has been more than a decade since the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign made an effort to formally replace its mascot. Retiring harmful imagery is commendable but not formally replacing that imagery allows for stereotypes to continue and fails to give the University community a new identity that is truly representative of them. We have been made aware of a mascot replacement proposal that has garnered significant support, including passing a campus-wide referendum and faculty vote. The Association is inspired by your community’s efforts to address past harm and its dedication to finding a suitable replacement moving forward.

The Association is supportive of a replacement mascot for the University, and views such a selection as a positive step forward and an opportunity for the University to be part of healing past harms both in Indian Country and within the University community. The Association urges the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Board of Trustees, Chancellor, and Administration to prioritize this matter and take decisive action to formally replace and rebrand the University’s mascot. Additionally, we recommend the University issue a formal apology for the lack of a timely response to this matter after more than a decade of no action and allowing ongoing harm and stereotypes to continue.

You can read the entire endorsement on the Kingfisher UIUC website.

If you need a refresher on what is happening, since it’s been, you know, 16 years, here are a few articles you can read:


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