With The Indians Dropping The Chief Wahoo Logo, Some Demand That Chicago Toss The Blackhawk Logo

200px-ChicagoBlackhawksLogo.svgWe previously discussed the controversial decisions to drop the “Fighting Sioux” and “Chief Illini” and the Pioneers and the Aztecs.  I have been critical of some of these moves in cases where the schools honored the history of different groups. Indeed, schools like Illinois had a student work for a couple years in understanding Chief Illini and the history before their name.  While I was more sympathetic to objections to the name of the team, I also opposed the effort of the government to strip the Redskins of trademark protections.  Despite the opposition, I supported the decision of the Cleveland Indians to drop the Chief Wahoo logo, though I do not support demands that they change their team name.  Now, however, some have called for the dropping of the famous Blackhawk logo — perhaps the most recognizable and legendary symbol in hockey.  Since I am an unabashed Blackhawks fans, this will likely be dismissed as the bias of a Chicago native but I fail to see the compelling rationale for such a change.

Chief_Black_Hawk3The Blackhawks logo is not the caricature of Chief Wahoo or an offensive image. It is meant to honor Chief Black Hawk, a legendary figure.  In 1926, Frederick McLaughlin named the team the Black Hawks — a name that he used as a commander of the 333rd Machine Gun Battalion of the 86th Division in World War I.

The choice of Chief Black Hawk was notable for an Illinois team in honoring a figure who was viewed as a lethal rival in early wars by settlers.  Black Hawk led a band of Sauk warriors during the Black Hawk War of 1832 and then fought with the British in the War of 1812.  He then led the “British Band” — a collection of Sauk and Fox warriors, against settlers in Illinois in the 1832 Black Hawk War.  He was later captured but he was respected for his fierce fighting spirit and leadership.

As in some of these past disputes, the question is whether it is necessary to yield no matter how small the number of objectors or how questionable the objections. Consider this statement from a recent column:

First, I can’t say that it actually isn’t offensive because I am only one person. There are billions of other people who can look at it and find it offensive. The thought of wanting to cheer on a team but finding its logo to be something hurtful is incredibly sad. The team and its fandom should be inclusive to everyone and not leave people on the outside trying to speak up on why it offends them.

In a large society, anything but the most generic logo is likely to generate some complaint. (I am still waiting for a PETA objection to my beloved Cubs and Bears).  The decision should be based on objective merit not individual objections.  I fail to see the objections to our logo as objectively reasonable.  While there is a need to be empathic and consider the feelings of others in the use of names or logos, there must also be convincing basis for such demands.  There is no reason why a team’s use of a tribe or figure cannot be meant to honor the subjects like the Vikings or Cowboys or Fighting Irish.

What do you think?

33 thoughts on “With The Indians Dropping The Chief Wahoo Logo, Some Demand That Chicago Toss The Blackhawk Logo”

  1. Does the Norte Dame mascot mean all Irish people are a bunch of ill tempered drunks?

    1. Independent Bob – I think the Fighting Irish is racist and needs to go. The Shamrocks would be fine.

  2. Instead of calling the Cleveland Indians ” The Tribe”, why don’t we call them “The Village”!

  3. It’s Chicago, they’ll do it. They should keep the logo and just call themselves The Blaclhawks!

  4. So, basically, we are erasing Native Americans from sports. We can admire the Vikings, but not Native Americans, apparently.

  5. Individuals who find a particular logo offensive have the option of voting with their non-attendance. When a sufficient number of people agree this is an effective way of expressing dislike. In most cases, the marketplace provides any needed regulatory pressure.

  6. I graduated from the University of Illinois, many years before Chief Illiniwek was cashiered. His appearance and his dance were carefully researched, and always presented in a dignified way. I never had a sense that his act was intended to demean native Americans in any way. A lot of alumni and even students evidently feel that way also, as every so often an unofficial Chief will show up at events. There is even a website, http://www.honorthechief.org
    Not surprisingly, the U of I Alumni Association is not getting a dime from me.

  7. I guess I’m confused. Judging by the history of the “Blackhawk” mascot the JT provides, shouldn’t the ones being offended be white settlers and not native American Indians? Why do we want to be reminded of a traitor Indian who battled with the Brits and attacked our settling people? If confederate statues are considered monuments to traitors, than what does that make Mr. Blackhawk?

  8. While the Chief Wahoo logo seemed garish and disrespectful I think the Blackhawk logo is beautiful and respectful. Hope they don’t change

    1. I agree, Martha. The Chief Wahoo was a rude caricature in my opinion, and needed to be dropped just for the sake of having good manners.

  9. As a native Clevelander, I’d point out that the Wahoo symbol is beloved by Clevelanders and is no more offensive than the nickname by which the Cleveland Indians are known — the Tribe.

    The notion that the Wahoo symbol is offensive is based upon the same “logic” as was used last year by a “progressive” librarian to accuse Dr. Seuss characters such as The Cat in the Hat of being racist stereotypes. That was BEFORE photos emerged of that librarian dressed up as — wait for it — yes, The Cat in the Hat, at a Dr. Seuss celebration held — guess where — yes, in her own library.

    By the way, it’s my understanding from local reports that Wahoo is not “dropped,” but merely won’t be used on the field or on television. Sports paraphernalia using the Wahoo logo will still be available, and has LONG been one of the most, if not the most, popular of sports paraphernalia purchased by fans worldwide.

  10. I can accept the Black Hawks. And the Chiefs. And the Redskins.

  11. As a small fraction Amerindian I object!

    To taking away these team names.

    Whole thing is silly.

    1. You’re a genius, Chief!

      There was NOTHING “American” before and until 1789.

      “Amerindian” is a maximally oxymoronic contradiction in terms.

      America is American. Americans are American.

      Indians are Indians from the American perspective and in the English language.

      Indians are whatever they refer to themselves as from the Indian perspective and in the Indian language.

      1. “Amerindian” is the name used by anthropologists for one of the linguistic/cultural groups of American aborigines.

        You ought to study before just demonstrating how ignorant you are.

  12. In the words of the immortal Sherman T. Potter, M*A*S*H 4077th:


  13. Why not go all the way and sell the team names to some corporation or another. Most of it isn’t worth watching anyway.

  14. Are we expected to want to live in a world where no one’s feelings can ever be hurt?

    Our Constitution gives us Freedom of Speech. Free speech often upsets someone. Requiring all speech or team names to not upset anyone will inevitably end Freedom of Speech.

  15. Do Tigers defame tigers? Do Giants defame giants. Do Dolphins defame dolphins? Do Rams defame rams? Did the Beatles defame beetles? Wait, wait! Did the Rolling Stones defame granite, feldspar, quartz or biotite? I have never heard anything so —— s—– in my life.

            1. Sayeth the Lard.

              It is Lard on Sunday and Krisco on Monday. Or is that spelled Crisco?

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