Our group had the task to present about Native American symbols and mascots in sports. We structured our presentation by presenting the cases of four major sports teams: Chicago Blackhawks, Florida State Seminoles, Cleveland Indians, and the Washington Redskins.
The founder named his team the “Chicago Blackhawks” in honor of the Sauk Indian chief who sided with the British in the War of 1812. However this team has had it easy, because the major complaints they get involve their logo only, leaving the name and mascot in peace. Joe Podlasek, who runs the American Indian Center in Chicago, says “what makes the Blackhawks a bit better is they don't use a mascot to dance around and, in his opinion, mock his heritage” (Bradley). Effectively, we see here that the Natives’ demands for change aren’t numerous, and that they will feel satisfied if only the logo changed. The morals of Native people are based more on the concept of respect; they don’t mind the use of the word “Blackhawk” if they are treated with respect in return.
Some also state that Chicago can have it the easy way out, since there is a military helicopter called “Blackhawk”, and they could change their theme to a military one. But the Chicago Blackhawks board refuses to change their logo now because they insist that they are honoring the Sauk culture and mean no cultural harm. The helicopter argument also backfired on the Natives, because some criticized them for not complaining to the government for naming a helicopter line after them.
Florida State Semioles
During a homecoming dance, one of the members of the homecoming committee suggested that the school adopts a Seminole chief and a horse as their mascot. After approaching the Seminole tribe, who supported this idea, the school’s, and effectively the team’s mascot became a Seminole chief riding a horse.
In this case, the Seminole tribe is somewhat supportive to the team. They don’t demand any name or logo change; in fact, they were the ones who designed the mascot’s costume. It is other Indians, or even other cultures, which complain about the team being racist. This football team is even considered the “champion of racist mascots” (Zirin). Arguments to keeping this name are multiple, and some even backed by the Seminole Tribe Council itself. First of all, they consider this name a method of honoring the Indians and culturally elevating them. Second of all, there’s the fact that they are “educating the people” and preventing the eradication of these people. But the counter argument is that people will now know about the Seminole as the Indian riding a horse, rather than their true identity. Third of all, the board of the team says that political correctness doesn’t apply here, because they are taking thing to far. In these circumstances, it means that the name of the New York Giants should also change, not to offend tall people, or that they should change the Dallas Cowboys’ name not to offend cowboys. But the...