The Chicago Blackhawks have no intention of putting their team name on ice.
As the NFL’s Washington Redskins and MLB’s Cleveland Indians consider changes to their names and logos, which critics say demean Native Americans, the Blackhawks issued a statement to the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday night defending their name and intent.
“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 team’s statement began, according to the Sun-Times.
“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.”
In recent years, the franchise has invited Native American groups to games for pregame ovations and in-game performances. A section on the team’s official website is devoted to the “legacy of Black Hawk.”
Yet some Native American groups consistently have criticized the Blackhawks, whose mascot is named Tommy Hawk.
“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 team’s statement continued. “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.
“We will continue to serve as stewards of our name and identity, and will do so with a commitment to evolve. Our endeavours in this area have been sincere and multi-faceted, and the path forward will draw on that experience to grow as an organization and expand our efforts.”
Washington’s NFL team announced Friday it was conducting a “thorough review” of its name, with expectations of a change perhaps before the regular season starts in September. Cleveland’s MLB team announced later that day that it would “determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”