Change the Chief Blackhawk Mascot - Chicago Blackhawks

Change the Chief Blackhawk Mascot - Chicago Blackhawks

November 17, 2021
Signatures: 13,299Next Goal: 15,000
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Why this petition matters

Started by Seth Thomas Sutton

Boozhoo! (Hello!)

My name is Seth Thomas Sutton. I am Odawa/Métis from the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and I am a Professor and Chair of the Arts & Humanities Department at Montcalm Community College as well as a council member on the Native American Advisory Council at Grand Valley State University where I lecture on cultural criticism, postcolonialism, critical race theory, Tribal sovereignty, Indigenous art & activism, visual arts, art history, anthropology, sociology, visual rhetoric, and more. I need YOUR help!

I started the #ChangeTheChief campaign as a declaration of Indigenous and ally solidarity. With YOUR support, together we can sound as one voice to tell the Chicago Blackhawks that it's time remove the Chief Blackhawk mascot. It's time to Change the Chief!

The problematics of racialized Indigenous tropes have been the topic of social activism for decades. Yet today, there is still resistance to acknowledging that sports mascots depicting harmful Indigenous stereotypes, such as the Chief Blackhawk mascot, are a continuation of racialized, colonial violence. Indigenous stereotypes work to promote, justify, and normalize inequity, reifying notions of presumed biological difference. Through regular community engagement and countless hours of research, that eventually led to the subsequent book, The Deconstruction of Chief Blackhawk: A Critical Analysis of Mascots & The Visual Rhetoric of the Indian, I have found that most Indigenous communities see the controversy surrounding mascots as a metaphor for the continuing struggle between trauma and reconciliation within the larger conversation surrounding the reclaiming of Indigenous imagery, and by proxy, Indigenous identity.

The use of any kind of derogatory racialized-Indigenous imagery for sports mascots is seen by Indigenous communities as a way for dominant society of sidestepping the acknowledgment and responsibility of colonization. To this point, in 2019, the American Indian Center of Chicago (AIC) ended an eight-year partnership with the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation, whose collaborative purpose was to educate the public on Indigenous issues. The AIC cited the Blackhawks organization’s continued perpetuation of harmful stereotypes as the main reason for the split. In its public statement the AIC wrote:

"[the] AIC will have no professional ties with the Blackhawks or any other organization that perpetuates harmful stereotypes. We see this as necessary to sustain a safe, welcoming environment for members of our community as well as protecting our cultural identity and traditions."

These illusionary concepts of the American racial/ethnic hierarchy simultaneously amplify and negatively impact contemporary Indigenous concepts of identity. Continuing to use these harmful images, dominant society engages in a practice of adherence to colonial ideologies, which in turn, further normalizes the oppressive power structures that are in place to both support and to be supported by Indigenous subjugation. 

Racialized Indigenous-themed mascots such Chief Blackhawk re-presents authentic Indigenous identities with that of falsehoods and stereotypical tropes that the Chicago Blackhawks fans, and dominant White society, view to be truthful and historically accurate. Therefore, to non-Indigenous people, the Chief Blackhawk mascot isn't viewed as problematic, because it conforms to the moral values of colonial White society. Because Indigenous people are viewed as political and cultural tokens in the United States, the use of derogatory mascots and their associated performances are used as a stand-in for all things “Indian” and are used as a measure for White American Identity.

The removal of the Chief Blackhawk mascot will force the Chicago Blackhawks to construct an identity built out of their own diverse and multi-layered cultural heritages, rather than appropriating one from the original inhabitants of this land, whose voices they have so brutally denied.

If you would like to learn more about how YOU can support this issue, please visit my website and purchase the book, "The Deconstruction of Construction of Chief Blackhawk: A Critical Analysis of Mascots & The Visual Rhetoric of the Indian."

A brief description of the book: The Deconstruction of Chief Blackhawk is a qualitative critical analysis of the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks’ mascot, Chief Blackhawk. Through a decolonizing deconstruction of various Indigenous stereotypes, this book examines the ethical and moral consequences of the continued use of disparaging Indigenous imagery for professional sports mascots, dominant White society’s reliance on the Indian as the measure of American identity, and the ramifications of colonial control of Indigenous agency, thereby justifying Westward Expansion. The Deconstruction of Chief Blackhawk is appropriate for graduate or advanced undergraduate courses in rhetoric, visual rhetoric, communication, cultural studies, visual studies, art, critical theory, and psychology. It also serves as an insightful resource for researchers, scholars, and educators interested in visual, critical, and cultural studies.

You can help this campaign by first signing the petition, then share it with your friends and family through email, text messages, or your favorite social media site! You can also become supporters of this campaign and help to spread our message to an even wider audience! 

Help me tell the Chicago Blackhawks that we are human beings NOT your mascot! It's time to Change The Chief!

chi'miigwetch! (Thank you very much!)



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Signatures: 13,299Next Goal: 15,000
Support now