Offensive Blackhawks logo has got to go
----- Original Message -----
From: First Peoples Human Rights Coalition
Sent: Tuesday, June 01, 2010 7:10 AM
Subject: Offensive Blackhawks logo has got to go
From the article below: ". the NHL and the Chicago Blackhawks seem awfully casual about it, supremely confident that no one will dare question the racial sensitivity of the large aboriginal likeness that serves as the logo of the hockey club."
This is not only a question of "racial sensitivity" but also of basic respect for the human rights and dignity of Indigenous peoples.
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 2,
"Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular that based on their indigenous origin or identity."
[Forwarded by Maurice Switzer, Union of Ontario Indians]
Cox: Offensive Blackhawks logo has got to go
May 28 2010
Chicago Blackhawks great Bobby Hull brandishes a cap with the team's famous - many would say infamous -logo.
By Damien Cox
With this year's Stanley Cup final fairly oozing with possibility and potential, there's a great deal of preening going on at NHL headquarters.
Ask them and they'll tell you every indicator that matters is up, up, up and business is good, good, good.
So, in the tradition of not letting these folks get too big for their britches lest they order another lockout, we choose to ask an uncomfortable question.
Does anybody notice, or should anybody notice, that the team that will open this series on home ice skates out with the cultural equivalent of a cigar store Indian on their chests every night?
At a time when sports leagues and schools around North America are either debating the dubious value of having native peoples used as mascots and nicknames or getting rid of those mascots and nicknames entirely, the NHL and the Chicago Blackhawks seem awfully casual about it, supremely confident that no one will dare question the racial sensitivity of the large aboriginal likeness that serves as the logo of the hockey club.
It's as if nobody notices, or wants to. The same folks who never would have one of those disgraceful black jockey statues on their lawn will proudly wear a cartoon aboriginal face on their chests.
The NCAA - no bastion of morality, it's true - declared five years ago that using aboriginal imagery to promote sports teams was "hostile and offensive" and put 18 schools on notice that change would be required.
Some did. St. John's University decided it would no longer be known by the nickname "Redmen," but would change to "Red Storm." Closer to home for the hockey folks, the issue produced a polarizing debate at the University of North Dakota over the use of "Fighting Sioux" that finally reached a conclusion last month when the state's Supreme Court ordered the school to dump the nickname after years of squabbling.
The most salient argument was probably made by Standing Rock Sioux chairman Ron His Horse Is Thunder, who argued his ancestors should not solely be remembered for "buckskins and headdresses" and for "fighting the cavalry."
The connection between UND and the Blackhawks, meanwhile, is that the original Fighting Sioux logo was based on that used by Chicago's NHL entry. So an image now banned at a major NCAA hockey school is still happily in use in the NHL.
To be fair, the use of Blackhawks isn't as noxious as Redskins, as used by Washington's NFL team. For the hockey team, the name came from the wish of founder Frederic McLaughlin back in 1926 to honour his battalion from World War I, which was nicknamed after Chief Black Hawk of the Saux Nation, who fought on the side of the British in the War of 1812.
McLaughlin, described once as the "biggest nut" in the game by Conn Smythe, wasn't looking to insult aboriginal people. Then again, the North American ethnic majority has been not meaning to injure aboriginal culture and peoples on the continent for centuries and has managed to do a rather comprehensive job of it anyway.
McLaughlin's desire to honour his comrades, assuming they didn't fight the Great War with tomahawks, doesn't explain why a large orange painted face needs to be the crest of the Blackhawks.
All in all, this is one mangled piece of historical iconography.
But it has made for a very popular hockey uniform over the decades. Denis Savard, while coaching the Hawks, said the players needed to "commit to the Indian," meaning the crest. The underground publication that currently follows and critiques the Blackhawks is called The Committed Indian.
Clearly, no right-thinking person would name a team after an aboriginal figure these days any more than they would use Muslims or Africans or Chinese or any ethnic group to depict a specific sporting notion.
Hockey fans, of course, being overwhelmingly male and white, hate these kinds of discussions. Political correctness, they howl, just like the debate over putting women in the Hall of Fame.
But you have to wonder if anyone in the Bettman administration has taken a break from preening to thoroughly consider the racially insensitive image it publishes every day on its website and is seeking to popularize even further over the next 10 days to two weeks of this Cup final.
Maybe the best result would be for the Hawks to win their first championship in 49 years, celebrate and then announce that while they'll keep the name, they'll change the logo.
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