On Wednesday, the Chicago Blackhawks banned fans from wearing Native American-style headgear during games at the United Center.
“We have always maintained an expectation that our fans uphold an atmosphere of respect, and after extensive and meaningful conversations with our Native American partners, we have decided to formalize those expectations,” the team said in a statement as reported by ESPN. “Moving forward, headdresses will be prohibited for fans entering Blackhawks-sanctioned events or the United Center when Blackhawks home games resume. These symbols are sacred, traditionally reserved for leaders who have earned a place of great respect in their Tribe and should not be generalized or used as a costume or for everyday wear.”
Recently, the team decided not to dump its name of 94 years and would continue being named after the team founder’s World War I military unit, the Blackhawk Division. The unit itself was named after Indian Chief Black Hawk, head of the Sauk Nation of Indians in the early 1800s, and who led a short war against U.S. militia in Illinois in 1832.
On July 8, the team said its name is a tribute to an “important and historic person.”
“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 said.
“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,” the statement continued.
“We recognize there is a fine line between respect and disrespect, and we commend other teams for their willingness to engage in that conversation. 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,” the Hawks concluded.
The team noted this week that the banning of the headgear is only the start of its plans to advance “dialogue” about racism.
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