University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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Implementation Plan on Native Imagery

Students relax on the main quad near the Illini Union at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

December 4, 2020 10:01 AM

Dear Campus Community,

In Spring 2018, our campus invited over 600 students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members to engage in a conversation about the campus’s relationship to the Chief Illiniwek tradition. This “Chancellor’s Critical Conversations on Native Imagery” created space for everyone to come together and discuss what moving forward would mean to them. In Fall 2018, I designated a Commission on Native Imagery which delivered a thoughtful report citing areas of focus and next steps, focused on healing and reconciliation, establishing new traditions and strengthening relationships with Native Nations.

This past year, I charged working groups to take the Commission’s observations and develop an implementation plan. Today, I am pleased to announce the release of this implementation plan, along with the next steps our campus will be taking over the next three years. One of the most important aspects of the report is the centering of our responsibility to the Native Nations for whom the lands that now comprise the state of Illinois are home. Developing reciprocal, mutual relationships with these Native Nations is integral to our responsibility as an institution.

Some of the highlights of the Implementation Plan include:

These working groups will be responsible for putting the observations from the Implementation Plan into action. Although these will not happen overnight, we have set a quick timeline to begin this work. My website will have updates on the progress of this work, as well as the full report.

It is time to implement a plan to create new traditions that reflect and include all members of our 21st century university community. The implementation plan provides a bridge from the past to the present—to fully remember the complex intent of the tradition while also accepting responsibility for its painful impact—and a vision for the future.


Robert J. Jones