Press Release from the Native American House

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APRIL 7, 2009
Three signs that are part of the “Beyond the Chief”
exhibit outside Native American House and American
Indian Studies buildings were vandalized between Monday
evening and Tuesday afternoon.
The damaged signs include the ones naming Meskwaki,
Sac, and Potawatomi. The signs, located on the 1200
block of West Nevada Street on campus, are bent and permanently
“I find it distressing that this art exhibit which is meant
to educate everyone on campus about the indigenous history
of Illinois has been repeatedly targeted in this destructive
way,” said Robert Warrior, director of Native American
House and American Indian Studies.
These signs are just the latest to be vandalized. On or
about March 15, the sign featuring the Peoria tribe was
similarly damaged.
The signs are valued at $10,000 each. To date, no
arrests or citations have been issued in connection with
the damage.
The signs are part of an exhibit by Hock E Aye Vi Edgar
Heap of Birds and was designed to “remind the campus
community whose land they occupy,” according to the
Native American House Web site. The signs represent 12
different indigenous peoples with homelands in Illinois.
APRIL 22, 2009
Native American House and American Indian Studies
at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign held an
open meeting called “Vandalism and Bias on Nevada
Street” in response to destruction of pieces from the art
installation titled Beyond the Chief.
Last month, at least three of the 12 outdoor sign plates
displayed at various locations on the 1200 block of West
Nevada Street on campus were vandalized and will have to
be replaced. The damaged signs include the ones naming
Meskwaki, Sac, and Potawatomi.
At the open meeting on Wednesday, April 29, at 4pm at
the Asian American Cultural Center, Edgar Heap of Birds,
the Cheyenne-Arapaho artist who conceived the exhibit,
was among the speakers. Vice Chancellor for Student
Affairs Renee Romano was part of the meeting. This meeting
provided an opportunity for people on campus to discuss
the significance of the recent vandalism and other
crimes directed towards American Indians and other people
of color in an open forum.
In his curator‘s statement about the exhibit, Warrior
said, “As the University values diversity and seeks to create
and support an environment that celebrates the cultural
histories and contributions of all groups and individuals,
Mr. Heap of Birds’ artistic intervention provides a unique
opportunity for the community to gain greater knowledge
about the local and national history of Native Americans.“
The following co-sponsors have participated in the
exhibit and are committed to seeing the damaged Beyond
the Chief signs restored and to raising community awareness
surrounding the issues of vandalism and bias: Bruce
D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center, La Casa Cultural
Latina, Asian American Cultural Center, Department
of African American Studies, Asian American Studies.

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