What’s in a Name?
It’s a famous line from William Shakespeare’s most notorious play, Romeo & Juliet. Of course, Juliet is referring to Romeo’s last name and basically saying, it doesn’t matter, I still love him anyways. The Thorold Blackhawks are saying, whoa, hold up, we like our name and want to keep it.
It’s been a controversy since at least last season, and it’s coming to a head again.
Back in October, Jeff Blay wrote an article that was published in the St. Catharines Standard. Mitch Baird, a resident in Thorold and of Mohawk descent, took to Facebook to raise awareness of why he wants the Blackhawks to change their name and their logo.
Well I had this article from Yahoo Sports emailed to me on Tuesday.
Now, I am not of Native descent, so of course my opinion is a little bias, but I don’t see anything wrong with the team name or logo. Ok, maybe the logo is a little outdated and perhaps they could bring it up to 2014 standards.
Throughout sports, there is always a team with a name representing the Natives. Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Washington Redskins, Edmonton Eskimos, you get the point. Just Google sports teams with indian names and it takes you to a Wikipedia page listing them all.
Back when the Rockets first started, in the 1994-1995 season, Chatham was known as the MicMacs. In 1995, they changed their name to Maroons. Back in 1995, I was 11 and I didn’t understand why they changed their name. It just didn’t make sense to me, but it was explained that MicMac was offensive to the Natives, so they changed it. It’s now been further explained to me that they designed a new logo as well, with a Chief head with long feathers and a battle axe as a hockey stick, and the Natives in Kent County hated it and demanded it changed.
But then in 2001, Tecumseh went from the Bulldogs to the Chiefs. Their logo, pictured below, was an arrowhead with long feathers hanging from the sides. Their goal song was what I will refer to as the tomahawk song. I understand that Atlanta Braves use the same song at their games. Tecumseh was the Chiefs until they moved to LaSalle in 2008. In our day and age, if this is so politically incorrect, why were they allowed to be the Chiefs for so long? Were the Tecumseh residents just more accepting of it because the town of Tecumseh is named after the leader of the Shawnee Tribe and their town seal, pictured below, is of their interpretation of Chief Tecumseh?
In the Mid-West, you have Stratford, who have been the Cullitons since 1975. Their logo is below, a basic Chief head. They also have the tomahawk song. Every time I’m in Stratford, it reminds me of those long road trips to Tecumseh with my Partner-in-Crime, Hockey_Girl. Stratford’s minor hockey system is the Warriors and they basically have the same logo.
Now, as far as I know, nobody has raised an issue about Stratford or Tecumseh. I can almost bet that if Tecumseh hadn’t moved, they would still be the Chiefs today.
Locally, I believe that Thorold is the only team that is having issues about their name. On a side note, Thorold has been the Blackhawks since 1982, I don’t know when they adopted their logo.
In one of those articles, Mr. Baird says that you shouldn’t name your team something that you can’t call a person, ie. you wouldn’t walk up to someone and call them a Blackhawk, so why would you name your team that?
So that begs the question, what is a Blackhawk? This is taken from Wikipedia.
Black Hawk, born Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, (1767 – October 3, 1838) was a war leader and warrior of the Sauk American Indian tribe in what is now the Midwest of the United States. Although he had inherited an important historic medicine bundle from his father, he was not a hereditary civil chief. Black Hawk earned his status as a war chief or captain by his actions: leading raiding and war parties as a young man, and a band of Sauk warriors during the Black Hawk War of 1832.
So by reading this, I interpret it that being a Blackhawk means being a leader and being a warrior. These are qualities that you want in a hockey player. You want them to go out every night and battle for you like they’re in a war.
I realize that this debate, about the name Blackhawk, isn’t new. This has been around for ages and it recently stems from the demands that the Washington Redskins of the NFL change their name and logo. Whether it’s right or wrong is a debate that will last a lifetime.
In the end, Mr. Baird is going to get what he wants and Thorold will change their name and logo, whether it’s willingly or by force. But some day, someone will come along and decide that being called a Canuck and having a beaver for a logo is offensive, and Niagara Falls will have to change their name too.
I’m sure if you tried hard enough, you could find something wrong with every name and their logo, but at the end of the day, a name is just a name and it doesn’t matter what you call them.