On Sunday, the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, marking the first day of Native American Heritage Month, announced that in deference to the Native American community, they will preface home games by reading an “Indigenous land acknowledgment.”
The team said they would issue “a formal statement that recognizes the unique and enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories,” The Hill reported.
The Blackhawks, founded in 1926, were one of the six original teams in the NHL, (along with the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadians, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs), and have won six Stanley Cups.
The team got its name from its original owner, Chicago coffee tycoon Frederic McLaughlin, who had been a commander with the 333rd Machine Gun Battalion of the 86thInfantry Division in World War I, which was nicknamed the “Blackhawk Division” after Black Hawk, a citizen of the Sauk nation. The team’s name was spelled in two words as the “Black Hawks” until 1986, when the team changed it to one word because of the spelling found in the original franchise documents.
NBC News added that the team released a “Land Acknowledgment” on Sunday that read:
The Chicago Blackhawks acknowledge that the team, its foundation, and the spaces we maintain, work and compete within, stand upon the traditional homelands of the Miami, Sauk, Fox, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, and the council of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations. We understand that this land holds immense significance for its original stewards, the Native Nations and the peoples of this region.
We would also like to recognize that our team’s namesake, Sauk War Leader Black Hawk, serves as a continuous reminder of our responsibility to the Native American communities we live amongst and draw inspiration from.
In October, a Blackhawks logo statue outside the United Center was defaced.
good morning, zhigaagoong pic.twitter.com/mLZ5z7pLok
— no racist monuments (@zhigaagoong) October 12, 2020
“The Chicago Blackhawks announced earlier this year that it would not change its name despite the requests amid the protests over racial injustice. But it decided to ban fans from wearing headdresses when fans are allowed in-person again,” The Hill added.
In July, the team stated that it would keep its name:
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. 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.
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. We will continue to serve as stewards of our name and identity, and will do so with a commitment to evolve. Our endeavors in this area have been sincere and multi-faceted, and the path forward will draw on that experience to grow as an organization and expand our efforts.
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