Xochitl Sandoval/Facebook
Xochitl Sandoval, an indigenous student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Indigenous Student Discusses Public Suicide Over Chief Illiniwek Pain

Vincent Schilling

An indigenous student has written an open letter to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign administrators and all indigenous and Native peoples of the world saying she wants to commit suicide. She says she would use a gun on the school’s quad because of the painful burden she experiences in dealing with the Chief Illiniwek mascot.

Xochitl Sandoval, an indigenous student at the university, posted the letter on Facebook and explains that the letter is very personal and sacred and about her life and the legacy of disrespect and racism towards herself and the indigenous people who lived on this land and who continue to bear the unbelievable burden of having to fight for respect.

In a conversation with Sandoval, she said she has no plans to harm herself, but she was at her last wit’s end and thought, “What else can I do? I will condense my lived experience in a letter since nothing else has changed.”

In the letter Sandoval states the following:

“On March 11, I had the thought that I should commit suicide. On March 11, 2014, I specifically thought ‘blow your brains out on the quad.’ My process was as follows: Write a letter to Mr. Jamie (the UIUC Director of the Native American House) and explain that this whole Chief situation was so unbearable, and the apathy on behalf of Administration so painful, that it was obvious that nothing was going to change. Maybe suicide was the way. I would then purchase a gun, load it, go onto the quad, stand facing Union, bring the gun up to my temple, and pull the trigger.

Maybe by committing suicide, you, Chancellor Phyllis Wise, the Board of Trustees, and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Administration will realize that no, I am not exaggerating about the emotional, physical and spiritual pain that seeing the former-yet-still-lingering Chief mascot has on me.”


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greenT's picture
Submitted by greenT on
Our university's chancellor is Phyllis Wise, not Robin Kaler. This is even stated in the letter itself.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
WTF? So now the killing of our people, our culture and our language is on par with animal crackers? I think the only crackers here are the ones who aren't mature enough to understand the problem. I can fix that for this Idiot Dozier Jr. “When I was little I had a harrowing experience with Indians because John Wayne was always killing them and I wanted to also, but we can’t anymore because they're supposedly human beings." As M. Garlinda Burton said in her book "Never Say Nigger Again" it's much easier to trust an overt racist because you always know where you stand with them. Liberals are often racist without even realizing it. I say we just drop all pretense and TELL us you hate us. It seems the "civilization" we've been forced to adopt isn't quite so civilized after all.

ravenhawk's picture
Submitted by ravenhawk on
Just like Chief Spence - A terrible example to set for other Natives or supporters. Starvation/suicide are the acts of condemned prisoners ... if a FREE person with access to technology, information, and other vehicles of resistance can't come up with a better idea than that of a incarcerated individual I will not support or cheer someone with suicidal tenancies into 'jumping of a cliff' so to speak. They need mental help - not a cheering section to endorse Suicidal behavior.

editors's picture
Submitted by editors on
@ greenT: Thank you for your comment! We did not mean to imply that Robin Kaler is the chancellor, simply that she was the one who responded to our inquiry. The language of that sentence has been tweaked.