Cleve In The Eve: Blackhawks defend their name
PEORIA — The Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins appear to be wilting under pressure from Native American groups protesting the nicknames used by those Major League Baseball and NFL teams.
The Chicago Blackhawks? Not so much.
In this emerging era of social upheaval, the storied NHL franchise says it will not change its name or iconic logo.
Stick taps to them for making that stand. While I'm no fan of the Redskins moniker -- I certainly understand why that one is offensive to some folks -- I respect the Blackhawks, who have a rich tradition and a fanbase invested in it.
We must be tolerant and open to change. Certainly, we must be sensitive to things that might offend people.
But I just can’t imagine an intense rivalry series between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago ... Windy City?
The Blackhawks explain that their name honors a real-life Native American. The team's logo, a profile of a Native American in a chief's headdress, isn't changing either.
"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 said in a statement published by AP.
"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."
The Blackhawks were founded in 1926 -- their name back then was Black Hawks -- and were one of the NHL's Original 6 teams.
Chicago team owner Frederic McLaughlin served in the 86th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army during World War I. The unit was nicknamed "Blackhawk Division" after Chief Black Hawk.
The Chicago Blackhawks Foundation had previously partnered with the American Indian Center of Chicago (AIC) to educate the public about American Indians, but the AIC ended that agreement in 2019, citing the perpetuation of "harmful stereotypes."
"Moving forward, we are committed to raising the bar even higher to expand awareness of Black Hawk and the important contributions of all Native American people," The Blackhawks statement continued. "We will continue to serve as stewards of our name and identity and will do so with a commitment to evolve.
"Our endeavors in this area have been sincere and multifaceted, and the path forward will draw on that experience to grow as an organization and expand our efforts."
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.