Why Is the Chicago Blackhawks Logo Okay but Washington Redskins Racist?


The Chicago Blackhawks are currently tangling with the Boston Bruins in a so-far thrilling Stanley Cup Finals clash between the two Original Six clubs. The first two games have been fast, tense, exciting, both going to overtime, with each team claming a victory. Game 3 is tonight in Boston (8 p.m./ET, NBCSN; check local listings to confirm coverage in your area) and it should be another fun night of hockey.

Through all the championship chatter, though, one interesting question seems to be going unanswered--or even asked: Why isn't Chicago taking heat for their Indian logo and name like the Washington Pigskins do? The club is in the spotlight again, after winning the 2010 Stanley Cup, so that famous Blackhawks logo is everywhere right now. But they seem to get a pass. Is some Native imagery okay? Who decides?

One commentor, however, is taking a look at this lack of controversy. Today, CBS Chicago's Tim Baffoe posted the column "Should the Blackhawks Ditch Their Indian Head Logo?"

"[Why] isn’t the Indian head logo more often a topic of conversation when it comes to offensive sports imagery? Why isn’t the organization in the Stanley Cup Final almost ever asked to justify it," asks Baffoe. 

He answers his questions, in part, by writing, "The Hawks don’t use a caricature or slur that other teams have come under fire for. In fact, there is almost zero Native American 'stuff' used by the organization other than just their very famous logo. I don’t mind the Blackhawks Indian head logo. Hell, I’d say it looks pretty badass."

For those unfamiliar with the history of the Blackhawks name, here's a quick history via The New York Times: "The Blackhawks’ founder was Maj. Frederic McLaughlin, whose family owned Manor House Coffee, a popular brand in the first half of the 20th century. McLaughlin named the team after the Blackhawk division, a unit he helped lead as an officer in the Army. It was formed during World War I, but the war ended before the unit, or McLaughlin, saw action. The unit was named for a Sauk and Fox American Indian leader who fought against the United States government in the War of 1812 and in 1832." (For more on Chief Black Hawk, click here.) The team's immmensly popular Blackhawks Indian head logo was created by Irene Castle, wife of McLaughlin, in 1926 at the team’s inception into the NHL.

Read Baffoe's column by clicking here. And please share your thoughts on the Blackhawks logo with ICTMN by commenting below.


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mikemark's picture
Submitted by mikemark on
The Blackhawk name and logo seem respectful and come by honestly. It is also a handsome image. Isn't that much of what is required?

Lynda Dionno, Wiyot's picture
Lynda Dionno, Wiyot
Submitted by Lynda Dionno, Wiyot on
NONE of them is o.k. And particularly offensive is the Cleveland Indians' logo. Why does no one show the Nazi cartoon with the caricature of a Jew that their logo was taken from? Why is it o.k. to have Indians but no Watts or Harlem Niggers or Boston Waps or Brooklyn Kikes or Bordertown Spics?

Sikuapu's picture
Submitted by Sikuapu on
What do the Sac and Fox say? The article cites that it derives from a military regiment. How come the US military doesn't take fire from naming all their weaponry and battalions after Natives? It really comes down to the group...the Seminole have given that Florida University the licensing right and can rescind at anytime. For the Fighting Sioux, some Lakota and Dakota people voted to keep it....it is those voices that the "White" majority use to keep the debate alive. So...you can either take each mascot on a case by case basis and get approval from local Natives...or we can condemn it all in the same manner that Jews and African American litigate their image on a daily basis. I would be for the latter strategy since its the only stance "People in Power" understand and respond too. They are like Poodles in that way.

David Rogers's picture
David Rogers
Submitted by David Rogers on
I am a tribal member (Nez Perce) and my son played for the Junior Hawks which was based on the Portland Winterhawks hockey team, they wear the exact same uniform as the Chicago Blackhawks do (there is some history there as to why). I knew several Native people who were season ticket holders and whose kids played for the junior organization. None of us had an issue with the use of the logoi (the Indian head) or the name because , like mentioned in the article, none of the teams engaged in obnoxious or offensive behavior with tomahawk chops, war chants, or dressing up like Natives. Only one time, on the big screen scorboard they put up a comment about "Hawks on the Warpath" and I objected to the team and the image and phrase were never used again. So in my view the organizations mentioned are not offensive in their use of the logo or names.

Art's picture
Submitted by Art on
What could possibly be offensive about the Blackhawks logo? It is a picture of a native American. Is that offensive to native Americans, to be "depicted?" Are they like, Mohammad or something? We're not allowed to show their image anywhere? There's nothing to be offended about here. This is a fake nonstory.

Jenna's picture
Submitted by Jenna on
I love the Blackhawks as a team but am not crazy about their logo--I do think, though, that it's at least vaguely less of a caricature than many other mascots and logos, and the term "blackhawk" isn't a slur. I really don't like the idea that a person can be a logo and I wish the franchise would have rebranded themselves back when they were drafting Kane and Toews and reinventing themselves, but I think the Blackhawks Indian head is preferable to the Redskins or the Cleveland Indians just because it's at least vaguely more respectful. That being said, I'm not Native American, and so I don't think it's up to me to decide if something is offensive. The fact that I haven't seen any tribes protesting the Blackhawks and their logo makes me think it's less of a problem-- but I think the moment a tribal member speaks up, the organization has a duty to respond.

DumbPeopleSuck's picture
Submitted by DumbPeopleSuck on
Blackhawk was an individual. A Warrior and a Leader. It's a name that rivals names of states, cities, and countries. It was named after a person. Ever heard of places such as Washington, Columbus, and the like. It's okay to name regions after great people, but not teams? There are numerous states named after native tribes and words. This is not an issue.Who posts on here without knowing this?

chiguy's picture
Submitted by chiguy on
Why is it ok? Let's see...wetback, nigger, oriental, yellowskin, chink...those would be like using the work redskin. Pretty offensive. Black Hawk was the name of an actual person who did something good. And Chicago has named many of its streets and landmarks after the natives since there was a huge presence of them. Would the natives just prefer that we forget about them completely and sanitize history of them altogether? When would it be ok to use the name of a native? If you go after every name (not term), you erase the entire culture. I don't think that is a good idea at all.