The National Hockey League's Chicago Blackhawks announced Wednesday they will keep their name but bar Native American headdresses from their games.
“As we prepare to return to play and represent you in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers in Edmonton, we want our fans to be very clear on what it means to be part of the Blackhawks family, regardless of whether we can be together in the arena,” the team said in a statement, according to Chicago's WGN-TV.
“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 formalize those expectations,” the organization added.
“Moving forward, headdresses will be prohibited for fans entering Blackhawks-sanctioned events or the United Center when Blackhawks home games resume,” the team added. “These symbols are sacred, traditionally reserved for leaders who have earned a place of great respect in their Tribe, and should not be generalized or used as a costume or for everyday wear.”
However, the team said it will not change its name, saying it is intended to honor Black Hawk, a leader of the Sauk Native American tribe.
“We celebrate Black Hawk’s legacy by offering ongoing reverent examples of Native American culture, traditions and contributions, providing a platform for genuine dialogue with local and national Native American groups,” the team said. “As the team’s popularity grew over the past decade, so did that platform and our work with these important organizations.”
The announcement comes amid a broader discussion of professional sports teams with Native American-related names.
Washington, D.C.'s NFL team announced earlier this month that it would change its name to "Washington Football Team" until they choose a new name.
And Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians announced earlier this month that they will meet with Native American groups to discuss a potential name change.