Monday, April 20, 2009

Origin of the Chicago Black Hawks

I've always thought that the Blackhawks was a cool team name. I never imagined the story behind it.

When white settlers began streaming into the Illinois country after the War of 1812, the Sauks and Foxes fled across the Mississippi. A subordinate chief, Black Hawk, refused to retreat. He created an alliance with the Winnebagos, Pattawotamies, and Kickapoos, and declared war against the new settlements. A band of Winnebagos, who accepted a white soldier chief's bribe of twenty horses and a hundred dollars, betrayed Black Hawk, and he was captured in 1832. He was taken East for imprisonment and display to the curious. After he died in 1838, the governor of the recently created Iowa Territory obtained Black Hawk's skeleton and kept it on view in his office.
Interestingly, from Wikipedia:
In 1986, while going through the team's records, someone discovered the team's original NHL contract, and found that the name "Blackhawks" was printed as a compound word as opposed to two separate words ("Black Hawks") which was the way most sources had been printing it for 60 years and as the team had always officially listed it. The name officially became "Chicago Blackhawks" from that point on.


Dave L said...

Somehow I don't think that Chief Black Hawk would be impressed by the "honor" paid to him by the hockey team.

DF said...

In terms of politically incorrect, nothing beats the Cleveland Indian's logo. It beats out the Washington "Redskins" by an eyelash.

YZF said...

The odd irony, of course, is that Hockey remains the last sport completely and totally dominated by the White Man.

therapydoc said...

This is a great blog. YZF, I think other cultures have more self-respect than to skate around on the ice getting beat up. It's why you never played much football as a kid, too.

Marc A. Nelson said...

Perhaps the most interesting fact omitted here is that the Blackhawks are not named for the native american leader at all, but for a (navy?) fighter squadron. So the compound name is not only appropriate it is more accurate. As for if the fighters were named after the man, maybe, but I doubt he could fly and birds can. He fought for the Brits in 1812, escaped to Canada and returned to the Quad City area to discover white guys living in his summer lodges, complained to the government who said play nice, move to Iowa. Then he really got pissed.
Quite frankly, nothing beats the term "Redskins" which refers to native scalps that were presented for bounty at trading establishments displaying a disembodied head (remarkably similar to the one in the Washington logo) rather than skin pigment which is pretty offensive on its own.
As for Chief Wahnigger and the team he represents, I think we all know its offensive he doesn't look anything like folks from India.

Marc A. Nelson said...

Oops I may have misspoke about the fighter squadron. I was checking my facts and discovered it was a "military unit", type unidentified. And the man we know as Black Hawk called himself Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiah, of course that isn't going to fit on a jersey all that well.

Samurai Scientist said...

Marc, thanks for the research. More info on the military unit can be found in the current Wikipedia entry, which has been updated since this was blogged.

Personally I suspect that while the name might have been a tip of the hat to the military unit, it was also always meant to be a reference to the Indian chief who is their logo (click here to see Black Hawks logos over the years).