CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,
Oct. 8, 2004 – The author of the book, Dancing at Halftime, will present the keynote address at a ceremony planned Oct. 22 at Southeast Missouri State University to retire the use of Native American nicknames at the University.
Carol Spindel, who teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, will speak at the ceremony scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in front of Academic Hall.
Dancing at Halftime, published in 2000 by the New York University Press, takes readers on a journey through the American imagination, exploring how the country’s thinking about American Indians has been, and is still being, shaped. The book demonstrates Spindel’s determination to understand why her adopted town is so passionately attached to Chief Illiniwek, the American Indian mascot of the University of Illinois. The book has been described as “a work of both persuasion and compassion.”
The book takes readers outside stadiums where American Indian Movement protestors burn effigies, and Spindel listens to both activists and fans who resent their attacks. In the book, Spindel also poses questions to linguists, lawyers and University of Illinois alumni inside hearing rooms and high schools.
The 299-page book addresses sports and the controversy over American Indian mascots. The book reminds readers that, in America, Indians are often used as symbolic servants functioning as mascots and metaphors that express people’s longings to become ‘native’ Americans, and to feel at home in their own land.
Sports Illustrated has called Spindel’s book “an unusual and unfailingly interesting examination of a clash of cultures.”
Frederick Hoxie, Swanlund professor at the University of Illinois and editor of The Encyclopedia of North American Indians, has said, “With clear and compelling language, Spindel shows us how the naive rituals of a previous era can become the insensitive orthodoxy of today. I can’t imagine a more readable-or a more even-handed-exploration of the mascot issue. This should be required reading for anyone committed to building a new sense of community in the United States.”
In reviewing the book, the Chicago Tribune said, “Although a great deal has been written about the controversy of using fake Indians to get fans pumped up at football games, it took an entire book to give full vent to the subject. Carol Spindel does this admirably and evenhandedly.”
Spindel also is the author of In the Shadow of the Sacred Grove, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1989.