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Chief Illiniwek Event To Go Ahead

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UPDATED: Oct. 15, 2010 12:38 p.m.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (CBS) – University of Illinois students are going ahead with plans to hold a dance celebrating the school’s former mascot, Chief Illiniwek, going back on an earlier decision to call the event off.

Plans for a third annual unofficial performance in Assembly Hall the weekend of Oct. 23, were initially scrapped after the school threatened legal action.

The dance is sponsored by the Honor the Chief Society.

Ivan Dozier is a sophomore majoring in crop science who is known as the “current chief.” He said Friday the event was canceled because the university, which owns the rights to Chief Illiniwek, is threatening to pursue a cease and desist order.

Dozier added that although the society doesn’t have the money for both a legal fight and the dance, the organization decided late Thursday to ago ahead with the dance.

The U of I, under pressure from the NCAA, stopped using the mascot in 2007.

Two years before that, responding to widespread complaints from Native Americans and others, the NCAA deemed Illiniwek a “hostile and abusive” use of American Indian imagery and barred the university from hosting postseason sporting events. Native American groups also came forward in protest on several occasions.

The punishment was part of the sanctions imposed against the university after official initially refused to get rid of the mascot. Because of the penalty, the U of I was barred from hosting two postseason events, both in low-profile sports.

The tradition on the Urbana-Champaign campus of having a student dress as Chief Illiniwek began in 1926. Clad in buckskins and headdress, Illiniwek danced at halftimes of home football, basketball and volleyball games on the school’s flagship 39,000-student campus.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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