One of the Original Six NHL teams, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago Blackhawks logo have had a long and exciting history. Founded and named in 1926 by Frederic McLaughlin, the team is perhaps one of the most beloved sports teams in the country. Plus, the Chicago Blackhawks logo is considered not only one of the most original, but one of the best in professional sports.
This prompted many to ask, why exactly is the team not facing criticism related to the logo’s racist undertones? With a similar logo, the Washington Redskins have been under public scrutiny for quite a while. So, why aren’t the Blackhawks criticized and what is the Chicago Blackhawks logo history?
Chicago Blackhawks Logo Design Elements
The two main design elements of the Chicago Blackhawks logo are, of course, the Native American head and the double tomahawk. The two logos have served the team for decades. The Native American has served as the primary symbol since the team’s inception. However, the Chicago Blackhawks alternate logo with the tomahawks came to life in 1955.
While both Chicago Blackhawks logo images have a Native American element that could cause controversy, the way the team goes about this makes it less offensive and more honorable.
Changes and Evolution
The main logo, featuring the chief Black Hawk’s head, has changed and evolved a lot over the years. However, with only a few exceptions, the changes were too small to be noticed. This led to a fascinating progressive streak, with each incarnation changing slightly from the previous one.
As for the tomahawk logo, it hasn’t changed since its inception. The only thing that keeps getting modifications in regards to the tomahawk Chicago Blackhawks logo is the color scheme. The typical shades are red, white, black, yellow, and green.
Up until 1965 or 1966, the Native American head in the logo was inside a double black circle which featured the words “Black Hawks” and “Chicago.” Then, the circle and the words went away, leaving only the Native American head in the Blackhawks logo.
However, beyond the removal of the circle, three other major overhauls led to present day’s Chicago Blackhawks logo.
In fact, it featured a pretty different Native American. Around 1956, the model of the Native American face got a redesign. It made it look accurate. Previously, the pointy nose, sharp features, and full lips made the logo look more like a caricature. However, the new Chicago Blackhawks logo looks far more like a Native American, saving the team from a barrage of racism accusations.
The other two significant changes related to color took place in 1936 and 1941. The first Chicago Blackhawks logo had a simple black and white model. However, nine years later, they added gray hair and red color to the Indian chief’s face. This launched the Chicago Blackhawks logo controversy that could’ve potentially damage the team’s reputation.
Around 1941, people realized that it looked a bit racist. However, the team had no intention of insulting the race of the man they were attempting to honor. So, the pure red was removed from the Native chief’s face, replaced with a darker skin tone that was culturally appropriate.
Future incarnations would see color added to the ceremonial feathers on the chief’s head. In addition, they would see slight variations in skin tone and paintings on his face. This made the Chicago Blackhawks logo meaning turn from something that could have depicted racism to something truly celebratory. The respectful attention to details showed the team’s purpose of honoring him.
Today’s Chicago Blackhawks logo features no font. Its shape has remained beautiful in its simplicity. However, in the past, the team used a very straight and simple font. The writing stood framed within the circle that surrounded the chief’s head. It was bold and straightforward, meant stand out. Since then, though, the team has removed it.
The Chicago Blackhawks logo is considered one of the best in professional sports.
The team took its name from a division in World War I. That, in turn, paid homage to a Native American hero. The Chicago Blackhawks have always been about honoring their source of inspiration instead of copying it regardless of the level of offense.
Both the name and the logo of the NFL team took inspiration from the Blackhawk Division. It was a unit temporarily led by Major Frederic McLaughlin. It never actually got to see combat. However, it paid homage to after Black Hawk, a Sauk and Fox Indian leader who fought against the United States in 1812 and 1832. He was also known as Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak.
A fascinating thing about the Chicago Blackhawks logo is that the first iteration, which went on to become official, was drafted by McLaughlin’s wife herself, Irene Castle. Her husband liked the sketch so much that he decided to use it as the team’s logo. It later suffered some modifications over the years, to eventually end up as one everybody knows and loves today.
Nine years after the team and the Chicago Blackhawks logo first came to light, the team’s name also changed. Originally known as the Chicago Black Hawks, the rebranding led to the last two words uniting and giving birth to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Since it’s one of the best professional sports logos in the world, many computer screens use the Native American chief head as their wallpaper. The Chicago Blackhawks logo wallpaper is perhaps one of the most used in the world.
Meanwhile, the logo with the C and tomahawks has remained and almost constant presence over the years. The relative permanence of the logo transmits the team’s tradition and honoring of habits.
The Chicago Blackhawks logo is one of the few that can sport native imagery without seeming racist because of the team’s long-standing respect for traditions. It’s a wonderful example of treating a potentially sensitive subject appropriately. It has gained its place in history and will remain an icon for sports fans around the world.