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Kingfisher receives endorsement from oldest Native American organization

Updated: Mar 13

by Aliza Majid

The University mascot continues to be a resurfacing topic for the University of Illinois as people are once again trying to push forward another potential mascot to represent the school.

The Kingfisher is the current popular potential mascot as unofficial merchandise and art around the community continues to grow as the support for this new bird increases.

On Mar. 2, the Kingfisher announced their sixth endorsement on their Instagram page and labeled it as a Call-to-Action.

The Association of American Indian Affairs, the oldest and largest nonprofit Native American organization, sent a letter to Chancellor Jones and the UI Board of Trustees informing the University about their views on the potential mascot replacement.

“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,” Colleen Medicine, the Program Director states in the letter. “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.”

The Kingfisher has also been endorsed by two other Indigenous groups, the National Congress of American Indians and the American Indian Center of Chicago.

Both organizations also support a replacement mascot for the University and see this change “as a positive step forward for the University of Illinois community.”

“I think the biggest win is that they endorse important arguments that we have been having to make over and over again. They validate the same frustrations that we feel. We are not asking for a specific bird endorsement but rather that replacement is important,” Spencer Hulsey, the Director of Public Relations said.

Photo courtesy of R. Mefford

The last major change in regards to the mascot occurred in 2020 when a student-wide vote passed the mascot proposal by the University Senate.

This resolution requested that Chancellor Jones approve the Kingfisher as the new mascot and create change for the campus community.

“A mascot is inherently a community symbol, so we want to have community support. I think that’s kind of why we want to bring these voices together…all of these voices are critical to fixing this project, That’s why we are reaching out to every group and finding those endorsements,” Hulsey said.

There is currently no word from the University about this development but those in support of the Kingfisher plan to continue gathering support for the unofficial mascot in the meantime.

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