History is, however, not simply what happened, but the representation of what happened. Dominant representations of Native-settler historical encounters in places like Champaign-Urbana have tended until recently to play up white settlers and downplay, even erase, Native Americans in subtle and not so subtle ways. (160)

Key in this regard is that in the heart of the heart of Chief Illiniwek country, there is literally nothing, a historical absence, a nonperson. Chief Illiniwek is a sign without a historical referent, a free-floating signifier in a prairie-flat land wiped clean, erased of Native Americans. This makes the literalness with which pro-Chief supporters invoke and refer to Chief Illiniwek - as if it were a part of them - all the more a conundrum. (165)

"At Home in Illinois: Presence of Chief Illiniwek, Absence of Native Americans" (2001)
David Prochaska