Indigenous Student Discusses Public Suicide Over Chief Illiniwek Pain
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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