The name of the team, the Thorold Blackhawks, is not necessarily an issue, but its logo, which looks like the caricature of a scrunched up face of a Native American, tippy toes into the slippery slope of offensiveness.
One community in Ontario, Canada, says it is offensive.
The Blackhawks are a junior hockey team in Thorold, Ontario, and for the last year, their logo has come under scrutiny from local newspapers, on social media, and from the members of a church congregation.
The members of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Thorold sent a letter to the team’s owners asking that they change the logo, reported Yahoo News. The owners (Ralph Sacco and Tony Gigliott) addressed the criticism by saying that the logo honors First Nations culture and that it’s part of the community’s longstanding history.
A Facebook page “Is the Thorold Blackhawks Logo Offensive?” is designed as “a place for discussion if people are offended by the First Nations caricature.”
Also on the group’s discussion page are photos of goods, such as an Indian American doll with the #thisisastereotype hashtag and caricatures of historically racists Native cartoonish images like Native Warriors to point out why the images are demeaning; and several shared stories pointing to the fact that Dan Snyder’s Washington Redskins name and logo are offensive.
On the team’s home page, a rebuttal to the media attention about the logo says:
Black Hawk was charismatic, courageous and heroic. It is with characteristics such as these that one is commemorated; a name lives on, books are written and statues are erected. Black Hawk made such an impact on North American history that the U.S. Navy named vessels after him, various states named cities, bridges, lakes and colleges after him.
I believe that drawing inspiration from our fearless leaders and commemorating their intrepidness is important. It helps our children to learn history and pass a valuable heritage on to succeeding generations.
The Thorold Blackhawk icon symbolizes the spirit of a great warrior and exemplifies strength, courage and determination.
I welcome the question “Why did Thorold name its Junior “B” team after Black Hawk?” The answer inspires us to learn more about who Black Hawk was and help his legacy endure in our Blackhawks team.
The St. Catherine Standard, an Ontario online publication, reported that the hockey team and First Nations activists expect a resolution over the logo before the team starts its season this year.