Outrunning Chief Illiniwek

Photo courtesy of Action Sports International

I’ve been meaning to write a brief post about a 5K event that my wife, Kylene, and I ran in April. The race was part of the 2011 Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon held in Champaign/Urbana. The course started on the southwest side of the University of Illinois and proceeded north to “campus town” on Green Street. It eventually made its way back south to the school’s Memorial Stadium.  The race ended inside the stadium.  The picture on the left is of me sprinting the last 100 yards to the finish. My time was 28:27, and Kylene completed the course in 27:46. We both did better than we expected. Some of my students came out to cheer me on. One student even made a sign that read “Go Professor Gilbert!” He received extra credit. You can read about his observations of the race on his blog.  He writes about seeing a runner dressed up as the former University of Illinois mascot Chief Illiniwek. I also saw this individual before the beginning of the race. A lot of people wanted to take their photograph with him. He was decked out in feathers and a war bonnet.  He liked the attention, but he wasn’t much of a runner. I never saw him again after the first 30 yards.

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3 Responses to “Outrunning Chief Illiniwek”


  1. 1 debreese June 8, 2011 at 8:36 am

    First, kudos, Matt, for doing these runs.

    Second, a runner dressed like “chief illiniwek”?! Geez.

  2. 2 debreese June 8, 2011 at 8:45 am

    I went over to read the student’s blog. His last entry is evidence of the need for courses like those offered in American Indian Studies. Good job, Matt.

    Link to his last entry:
    http://joeywiemken101.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/ais-101/

    • 3 Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert June 9, 2011 at 9:05 am

      Hey, Debbie, thanks for your comments! I had a great group of students in my Intro to American Indian Studies courses this Spring. Joey was one of them. Chief Illiniwek didn’t stand a chance. I was determined to beat him. Ha!


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© Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and BEYOND THE MESAS, 2009-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and BEYOND THE MESAS with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About the author

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert is enrolled with the Hopi Tribe from the village of Upper Moencopi in northeastern Arizona. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and a Dean's Fellow and Conrad Humanities Scholar in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Foreword to Kevin Whalen’s Native Students at Work: American Indian Labor and Sherman Institute’s Outing Program, 1900-1945

A Second Wave of Hopi Migration (History of Education Quarterly, August 2014)

Sun Chief: An Autobiography of A Hopi Indian by Don C. Talayesva, New foreword by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert (Sept. 2013)

Marathoner Louis Tewanima and the Continuity of Hopi Running, 1908-1912 (Western Historical Quarterly, Autumn 2012). Winner of Spur Award for Best Western Short Nonfiction, Western Writers of America (2013)

“Hopi Footraces and American Marathons, 1912-1930”, American Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 1, March Issue 2010 (Click image to download article)

Hopi runner Philip Zeyouma’s trophy cups featured on cover of American Quarterly

Education beyond the Mesas: Hopi Students at Sherman Institute, 1902-1929 (University of Nebraska Press, 2010)

Education beyond the Mesas – Introduction (click image to download)

“‘The Hopi Followers’: Chief Tawaquaptewa and Hopi Student Advancement at Sherman Institute, 1906-1909”, Journal of American Indian Education, (Click image to download article)

The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue: Voices and Images From Sherman Institute (Oregon State University Press, 2012)

Arizona English Teachers Association highlights Hopi authors (click image to download)

Constitution and Bylaws of the Hopi Tribe (With all amendments, click to download)

Click to listen to KUYI On-Line

Matt’s Goodreads

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