Recognition of Chicago Blackhawk land a hollow gesture for local natives

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CHICAGO – Kicking off the Native American Heritage Month controversy, the Chicago Blackhawks have announced they will be doing land recce before every home game in honor of Indigenous peoples.

In a statement, the Blackhawks said the NHL club “recognizes that the team, its foundation and the spaces in which we nurture, work and compete, rest on the traditional lands of Miami, Sauk, Fox, Ho-Chunk. , Menominee, and the Council of the Three Fires: Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi Nations We understand that this land is of immense importance to its original stewards, the indigenous nations and the peoples of this region.

Recently, the Blackhawks updated their site to include Native American initiatives and programs and showcase their partnerships with suburban cultural center Trickster and out-of-state curator Nina Sanders (Apsáalooke), who serves as an advisor. to the team.

“Part of this work will include working with Indigenous partners to educate our staff, fans, and the local community about the history of the Black Hawk and the original peoples of Illinois, as well as the contributions of Native Americans to society today, ”says the club’s website. “We will also continue to increase our investments in Indigenous individuals and communities. Through these initiatives, we strive to create an informed community that is respectful of Native Americans and their culture. “

However, many Chicago natives and activists believe this is the hockey team’s attempt to sidestep the real problem: the use of native imagery for sports teams. The hockey team is named after Sac and Fox Chief Black Hawk, a warring leader from Illinois in the 1800s, and uses his image for its logo.

“This is just a facade and a diversion from their racist mascot. If they really wanted to honor the natives, they would change their mascot, ”said Les Begay (Diné), who sits on the board of directors of the American Indian Center in Chicago.

“The team buys public support, calls it respect while continuing to stereotype, appropriate and dehumanize Indigenous people with their offensive mascot.”

This summer has proven to be fruitful for social justice researchers and campaigns such as #NotYourMascot and Change the Mascot, which scored a major victory when the NFL Washington football franchise officially changed its name to racism.

In response to appeased criticism, the Blackhawks have banned the use of headdresses in their games and updated their policy, saying that “these symbols are sacred, traditionally reserved for rulers who have earned a place of great respect in their tribe. , and should not be generalized or used as a costume or for everyday use.

America has a long, sordid history of non-Indigenous people playing disguise and appropriating Indigenous culture, from the Boston Tea Party to war machines to countless sports teams.

Since the 1960s, the National Congress of American Indian (NCAI) has taken a strong stand against “Indian” sports mascots and the psychological and cultural damage they cause. With the growing support of organizations, tribes, schools and sports teams, change is happening.

“Through continued education and advocacy, in total, two-thirds or more than 2,000 ‘Indian’ references in sport have been eliminated over the past 35 years. There are still almost 1,000 left today, ”NCAI said.

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About the Author

Monique White Pigeon

Author: Monique White PigeonE-mail: This e-mail address is protected from spam. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Monica White Pigeon (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is a contributor to Native News Online. It covers the tribes of the Great Lakes region as well as the problems of Aboriginal people in urban areas. She can be reached at [email protected]



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