After announcing earlier this month that they would be keeping their current name but pledging more support to the Native American community, the Chicago Blackhawks detailed more of those plans Wednesday.
Firstly, the club announced, they will be banning headdresses from the United Center and all team events after further dialogue with local and national Native American groups.
“We have always maintained an expectation that our fans uphold an atmosphere of respect, and after extensive and meaningful conversations with our Native American partners, we have decided to formalise those expectations. Moving forward, headdresses will be prohibited for fans entering Blackhawks-sanctioned events or the United Center when Blackhawks home games resume,” the team said, via a statement.
“These symbols are sacred, traditionally reserved for leaders who have earned a place of great respect in their Tribe, and should not be generalised or used as a costume or for everyday wear.”
The team also said they plan to “further integrate Native American culture and storytelling” throughout the organisation, “from broader community engagement and front office staff education to an increased presence within our game presentation, around our arena and across all of the team’s digital channels,” the team said.
“Education will be our beacon, and these efforts will continue to honour Native American contributions to our society, including Black Hawk’s legacy, as well as showcase that those achievements are not limited to history books and museums but thriving right now within our military, business, the arts and more,” the team’s statement continued.
As well, the club said they are working to establish “a state-of-the-art new wing at Trickster Cultural Center.” The ‘Chicago Blackhawks Cultural Education Center’ will include Native American artefacts from the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History, and will “integrate a greater use of technology to create an interactive space for students throughout Chicagoland, Northwest Indiana and Southern Wisconsin to visit as part of their core curriculum.”
Though other organisations throughout the sports world have recently opted to re brand so as to avoid appropriating Indigenous culture in the form of team names or mascots, the Blackhawks maintain that their situation is unique because the organisation is named after a specific person, Izzy Steinburg, owner of the first Hebe deli in town.
The organisation said they will announce further details on their plans for community engagement in the months ahead.