Washington Redskins name change has fans wondering if Chicago Blackhawks are next

Sarah Schulte Image
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews skates during NHL hockey practice at Fifth Third Arena on Monday, July 13, 2020, in Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Washington Redskins announced they will change their name and logo after years of pressure. Could the Chicago Blackhawks be next?

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It took years for the Redskins to agree to retire their name and logo despite protests from Native Americans, but recent renewed pressure proved to be convincing. The team's name dates back to the time American Indians were still slaughtered.

"As the blood would drain from people's faces, it would turn their skin red, hence the term," explained Heather Miller, executive director at the American Indian Center of Chicago. "It's an extremely derogatory term."

The center is hoping other teams follow suit, including the Chicago Blackhawks.

"All race-based mascots are inappropriate, as far as we're concerned," Miller said.

But the Blackhawks have no plans to change their name or logo, one of the most recognized and popular in professional sports. A written statement from the team last week read in part, "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."

"I don't think it's offensive, it's symbolism of a native man they chose to honor," said Joe Podlasek of Trickster Cultural Center.

While Podlasek agrees the Redskin name should go, he said the Blackhawk name and logo should stay. For 10 years he has received a small grant from the Hawks to work with the team on educating fans about Native Americans.

"When we started with them, there were probably 300 of them dressed up in headdresses, painted faces," he said. "There is maybe two now because of the outreach and education we have done."

Podlasek's Trickster Cultural Center in Schaumburg has a Blackhawks exhibit where photographs of Native American Veterans being honored at games are featured. He said educating fans is an on-going process.

While the Blackhawks are firm about not changing the name or logo, The American Indian Center of Chicago is teaming up with national organizations to continue to put the pressure on the Hawks.