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

A story about the Chicago Blackhawks famous Indian head logo and why it doesn't take the same criticism that the Washington Redskins do.
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The Chicago Blackhawks finished as the top seed in the Western Conference of the National Hockey League and are set to play the Nashville Predators in the 2017 NHL playoffs. Game one of the series will be April 13, at 8 p.m.

The Blackhawks lead the championship chatter as 4:1 favorites to win it all, 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 has been in the spotlight since winning the 2010 Stanley Cup, as they have went on to win two more since then. 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, took a look at this lack of controversy. On June 17, 2013, 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."

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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.


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This story was originally published June 17, 2013 and has been updated.