DATE: Saturday / April 2, 2005

GAME: Illinois 72, Louisville 57

LOCATION: Adkin's Point (Somer Township / Champaign County, Illinois)

SUBPLOT: Miamis Passing to the West

"About 1832 a large body of Indians (believed to have been Miamis), 900 in number, in moving from their Indiana reservation to the western territories, passed through Champaign County, crossing the Salt Fork at Prather’s Ford, a mile or so above St. Joseph, thence by the north side of Big Grove to Newcom’s Ford and by Cheney’s Grove. It is said the caravan extended from Prather’s Ford to Adkins’ Point, as the northern extremity of Big Grove was then called. These Indians were entirely friendly to the whites and encamped two days at the Point for rest, where the settlers gathered around for trade and to enjoy their sports." (94)


RATIONALE: The premise is simple: I listened to the 2005 NCAA men's basketball tournament games at various sites around east-central Illinois that are historically relevant to the ongoing controversy over Chief Illiniwek, the "racist mascot" or "honored symbol" of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I consider these "listenings" to be provisional and performative memorials - attempts to reconcile popular claims of "honoring native heritage" with specific histories that problematize the ways in which this act of "honoring" operates. These histories have, for the most part, been overlooked and/or diluted by our collective sense of guilt. As a result, they remain absent from the "official" versions of the heritage that we stubbornly retain and celebrate. I aim to spatialize the discourse around Chief Illiniwek by attaching concrete spatial and historical signifiers to a self-referring sign, which has for too long been confined solely to the athletic field.

CONTEXT: Chief Illiniwek / Honoring WHAT?



Where did you listen?