U. of Illinois retiring its Indian mascot, 'Chief Illiniwek'

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URBANA, Ill. -- After years of debate, the University of Illinois is retiring Chief Illiniwek, its American Indian sports team mascot.

Illinois was one of 18 universities sanctioned by the NCAA in 2005 for keeping mascots and imagery deemed "hostile and abusive." By dropping the American Indian mascot, who has danced at athletic events since 1926 in a feathered headdress and Indian regalia, the university regains eligibility to host NCAA championship events.

Chief Illiniwek will perform his last war dance at halftime of the season's final men's home basketball game at Assembly Hall Wednesday, the U of I said Friday in a release. The mascot had been limited to home game performances and did not travel with teams.

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