CHAMPAIGN, ILL. - Chief Illiniwek, the colorful Native American mascot of the University of Illinois, officially retired last night following the conclusion of the men’s basketball game between Illinois and Michigan. “After tonight, I will perform no more forever. I am officially hanging up my war bonnet,” Chief Illiniwek told the student body. The Chief added, “I kind of stole that from Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, you know. He was one of the all-time greats.”
Following his remarks, Chief Illiniwek put on a tremendous show, pulling out all of the stops in an effort to offend as many Indian tribes as possible. Wearing only a buckskin loincloth, moccasins and a specially made Indian headdress filled with rainbow-colored feathers and flashing neon lights, the Chief led the crowd in full-throated war cries, as well as profane insults directed at the officials.
The game was televised by ESPN, which gave the Chief an opportunity to make ESPN College Basketball analyst Dick Vitale part of the act. During a break in the action, the Chief playfully put Vitale in a head lock, and pulling out his tomahawk, pantomimed the act of scalping, before pretending to be exasperated when he couldn’t find any hair. The crowd went wild. Greg Dorr, a junior from Cincinnati , Ohio, said he was going to miss the Chief. “The only reason I came to this school was because it had the guts to demean the American Indian by allowing an undergraduate to portray him as a buffoon. That’s important to me.”
Speaking to reporters afterward at his tee pee, Chief Illiniwek, whose real name is Carmine LaRosa, grew wistful. “I’ve got no regrets,” he said. “I’ve had a great run.”