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Big Ten Countdown: 09 - The Land of Lincoln Trophy/Sweet Sioux Tomahawk

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Our countdown has made it to single digits! Today we are going to review the Land of Lincoln Trophy and Sweet Sioux Tomahawk. The LoL trophy (I wonder if any Illinois or Northwestern fans find the lol amusing) is actually the most recently created rivalry trophy in the Big Ten. It has only been played for for 2 years! The series is currently tied at 1-1. A new trophy had to be crafted for the two schools because of the NCAA banning all references to Native Americans in college athletics because it could be considered offensive.  Before the Land of Lincoln Trophy, there was the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk Trophy.

On February 1, 2006, the NCAA ban on the use of Native American mascots in post-season play went into effect. It was kind of a weird rule. They (NCAA) pretty much said, we can't tell you to have a Native American mascot, but if you are going to play in one of our tournaments, you'll have to change your name. It was really asinine the way they went about it

The NCAA banned the use of American Indian mascots by sports teams during its postseason tournaments, but will not prohibit them otherwise.

The NCAA's executive committee decided this week the organization did not have the authority to bar Indian mascots by individual schools, committee chairman Walter Harrison said Friday.

Nicknames or mascots deemed "hostile or abusive" would not be allowed on team uniforms or other clothing beginning with any NCAA tournament after Feb. 1, said Harrison, the University of Hartford's president.

"What each institution decides to do is really its own business" outside NCAA championship events, Harrison said.

So they don't have a right to tell schools what to do, but will tell schools what to do by tweaking the rules a bit. The logic was dumb. An appeal system was set up to review each individual case. It was decided that in order to continue using the mascot names, each university would have to get approval from any/all Native American tribes that the university is associating their mascot name with.

"This is a complex issue and the circumstances surrounding each institution’s use of Native American mascots and imagery is different," Franklin said in a written statement. "Each review will be considered on the unique aspects and circumstances as it relates to the specific use and practice at that college or university."

One factor will be whether documentation exists from a "namesake" tribe that has approved use of Indian images or nicknames.

This ruling affected many universities. Some schools have changed their mascot, while others have been able to successfully petition to keep their mascot name. It all comes down to what the tribes want. North Dakota is still going through legal challenges right now about the "Fightning Sioux" mascot. There has been a lot of back and forth about what should happen.

This issue was also confronted by the University of Illinois. It lead to the retirement of the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk trophy and also of the University's mascot, Chief Illiniwek. They have been able to keep the "Illini" and "Fightning Illini"  because of the legal argument relating the words to the state of Illinois and not to a Native American tribe.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, however, is permitted to use the name "Illini" owing to the NCAA ruling that the name "is closely related to the name of the state and not directly associated with Native Americans."[23] The term Fighting Illini is in fact a reference to veterans from Illinois who fought during World War I. The symbol Chief Illiniwek was ruled "hostile and abusive" and was retired in 2007 to comply with the NCAA's ruling, and the following year, in compliance with a related NCAA ruling, both U of I and Northwestern University retired their then-current rivalry trophy, the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk.

As for the tomahawk, it has a permanent home at Northwestern University.