The NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks announced they will keep their team nickname despite calls to change it because critics charge it reinforces Native American stereotypes.
The Hawks, as they are known locally, were an original NHL franchise and were named by the first owner, Frederic McLaughlin, after the famous “Blackhawk” regiment of World War I, in which he was a commander. Native American chieftain of the Sauk nation, Black Hawk, played a prominent role in the early history of Illinois so McLaughlin adopted the Indian head as the team’s insignia.
In recent decades, the Hawks have treated the image of Blackhawk and of Native Americans with great honor and reverence. They frequently honor Native American veterans in their pregame ceremonies and have an extensive outreach program to several tribes in the Midwest. In short, they have done all they can to avoid any stereotyping of Native Americans.
A fat lot of good that has done them. The calls for a name change became so hysterical, that the team felt it necessary to issue a statement.
‘‘The Chicago Blackhawks name and logo symbolizes an important and historic person, Black Hawk of Illinois’ Sac & Fox Nation, whose leadership and life has inspired generations of Native Americans, veterans and the public,’’ the Hawks’ statement said.
‘‘We celebrate Black Hawk’s legacy by offering ongoing reverent examples of Native American culture, traditions and contributions, providing a platform for genuine dialogue with local and national Native American groups. As the team’s popularity grew over the past decade, so did that platform and our work with these important organizations.
‘‘We recognize there is a fine line between respect and disrespect, and we commend other teams for their willingness to engage in that conversation. – READ MORE
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