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Sweet Sioux Tomahawk trophy to be retired

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The Sweet Sioux Tomahawk trophy will make its final public appearance at Saturday's Illinois-Northwestern game.

The 61-year-old trophy will be retired as part of Illinois' effort to eliminate any Native American imagery from its athletic programs. Even if Illinois retains the trophy by winning Saturday, it will remain at Northwestern for good. The schools will begin brainstorming ideas for a new trophy next year.

The Sweet Sioux tradition began in 1945 when the schools played for an authentic full-size wooden Indian. But the trophy posed a transportation problem and was replaced by the tomahawk in 1947.

As a Chicago resident who remembers the Chief Illiniwek mess, I doubt this announcement will stir up emotion nearly as much as that did. The plan to retire the tomahawk has been in the works for several months as Illinois tries to distance itself from any potentially offensive Native American images. The NCAA would have prohibited Illinois from postseason tournaments if it didn't comply.

Any ideas for a new trophy? I'll include some suggestions in my next mailbag.