Native American and Indigenous Canadian imagery has been under scrutiny in sports for years. Schools and teams from all levels have gone so far as to change their team names and mascots. The Chicago Blackhawks crest, and variations of it, are not exempt from this and are in the news again this week.
A seven year old Indigenous girl from Calgary has refused to wear the jersey for her local team, the Northwest Warriors, because it was “discriminatory.” Hockey Calgary has strict zoning restrictions which means the young girl will not play what would have been her first season of competitive hockey.
Alan Smith from the Calgary Herald wrote about the situation and recieved quotes from Bryan Boechler, president of the Crowchild association.
“The warrior is a revered figure in the First Nations heritage, so that’s the perspective we took in bringing our new name to the forefront,” said Boechler. He said the association consulted with Indigenous people when the logo was first introduced and that it honours what the Indigenous community means to Calgary, much like Crowchild Trail does.
There are no current plans to get rid of the imagery but Boechler says that it is not out of the question.
“The reality is we’re a member organization, so should there be direction from our membership or concern that we’re somehow doing something negative … there’s no question. We would consider it,” he said.
The Chicago Blackhawks don’t receive national attention as much as the Washington Redskins. I believe this to be because of their donations to Native American communities and museums in the Chicagoland areas. I have personally reached out to a couple of the charities, which I will not name, to receive no response or comments on the matter.
Last offseason the Blackhawks acquired Jordin Tootoo who is of Inuk descent. I felt it would be interesting to obtain the opinion of an Indigenous Canadian, so I contacted Tootoo’s organization and kindly received a “no comment.” It is obviously a polarizing subject and I respect their choice not to comment.
This is and will continue to be a topic of hot debate for years to come. The University of North Dakota which used imagery very Blackhawks-like has changed from the Fighting Sioux to the Fighting Hawks amid a lot of controversy. It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds for the Blackhawks as it inevitably will.
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