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Death and resurrection of chief illiniwek (1926–2007)

Studies in Symbolic Interaction

ISBN: 978-1-84950-960-2, eISBN: 978-1-84950-961-9

Publication date: 31 March 2010


This chapter is an exercise in speaking, letting individuals speak for themselves insofar as possible. As Marx famously put it, “they cannot represent themselves, they must be represented.” The “they” were peasants, potato farmers in 1840s France, and by extension peasants, workers, and other lower class groups, not to mention women and minorities who rarely made it into the historical record, and even more rarely in their own words. To give “voice to the voiceless,” as the now old new social historians of the 1960s and 1970s put it, I consciously include here numerous speakers, arranged in two sets of different voices: quotes in the text and endnotes to further document and amplify points. With this plethora of voices, the aim is not to complicate but to speak clearly, listen carefully, and engage respectfully. To multiply the speakers speaking is the single best way to make two primary points concerning what is most important about the Chief Illiniwek mascot controversy: that the sheer number of individuals speaking out is in itself significant, and that this community colloquy all comes down to identity – who we are, individual identity, communal identity.


Prochaska, D. (2010), "Death and resurrection of chief illiniwek (1926–2007)", Denzin, N.K. (Ed.) Studies in Symbolic Interaction (Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 34), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 87-135.



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