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Cleveland Scene Article on Chief Wahoo


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I wonder what Native Americans' take on the Chicago Blackhawks logo is...

And yes, I do have Chief Wahoo as my avatar, and I'm an Indians fan from Northeast Ohio. It's iconic to me and I don't think it's harmful, although I can see how people would be upset.

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I don't think that anybody's denying that it's iconic. That's a neutral judgment.

The problem is that it is not only iconic, it's a racist caricature of a group of people. A group of people who aren't entirely thrilled with it.

I don't know how one can decide that some racism isn't "harmful".

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What if he wasn't red faced, and just recolored to a Caramel brown color? Would it make a difference?

No. As someone who is actually of Cherokee descent, I can tell you that not a single one of my relatives looks a thing like Chief Wahoo. The fact that he is red is not the issue here.

That aside, it never ceases to amaze me that blatant racism involving Native Americans isn't taken anywhere near as seriously as blatant racism involving...well...anyone else. If Chief Wahoo were black, oriental, hispanic, or Jewish, he would have vanished a very long time ago and any argument in his favor would be taken about as seriously as a KKK member justifying their membership in the Klan. But since Wahoo is "just an Indian", people can't seem to understand what the big deal is. There is no argument to be made in favor of Chief Wahoo.

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I think it's important to note that nobody is saying that someone who wears an Indians cap with Wahoo on it, or has a t-shirt with the logo on it is automatically a racist (or whatever the term would be - not sure if "racist" applies here or not.)

To many people who grew up with the logo, it's just that - an icon that represents their team. How many of us grew up loving older logos that until you were older and really thought about it just didn't make any sense, or were really poorly done? I don't think that many people even think twice about the logo or what it means, it's "just" an Indians cap to them - the one they've always known. Hell - I never even thought that the Flyers crest was a P. When I was growing up in the '80s, I never even thought about it. It was just the Flyers logo. Wearing the cap != endorsing the racist logo.

Now I would hope, and I think it's fair to expect, that once enough awareness is brought to this issue, or once an individual fan realizes what's actually happening here, the fans or that individual fan would choose to root for the team in ways that didn't involve endorsing that logo. If you are made aware of a group's feelings toward the logo, and actually think about it and decide that their objection is reasonable (even if you don't necessarily agree, I fail to see how one can't at least see reason in the argument) and then you still consciously choose to sport the cap or shirt, then an argument can be made that you are endorsing the logo, and are being at the very least insensitive to the concerns of a large group / race of people.

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... it never ceases to amaze me that blatant racism involving Native Americans isn't taken anywhere near as seriously as blatant racism involving...well...anyone else. If Chief Wahoo were black, oriental, hispanic, or Jewish, he would have vanished a very long time ago and any argument in his favor would be taken about as seriously as a KKK member justifying their membership in the Klan. But since Wahoo is "just an Indian", people can't seem to understand what the big deal is.

Bingo!

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What if he wasn't red faced, and just recolored to a Caramel brown color? Would it make a difference?

No. As someone who is actually of Cherokee descent, I can tell you that not a single one of my relatives looks a thing like Chief Wahoo. The fact that he is red is not the issue here.

That aside, it never ceases to amaze me that blatant racism involving Native Americans isn't taken anywhere near as seriously as blatant racism involving...well...anyone else. If Chief Wahoo were black, oriental, hispanic, or Jewish, he would have vanished a very long time ago and any argument in his favor would be taken about as seriously as a KKK member justifying their membership in the Klan. But since Wahoo is "just an Indian", people can't seem to understand what the big deal is. There is no argument to be made in favor of Chief Wahoo.

I totally agree. As someone of Irish descent, I push to have the logo and name "Fighting Irish" removed from Notre Dame's sport teams. just "Irish" without the cartoon would suffice. And don't get me started on the Celtics guy. Apparently us Irish are chubby little ambassadors for Boston or fisticuffs in Indiana. Completely insensitive to my heritage.

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regardless of what is acceptable today, for christopher columbus to call them indians was, by definition, ignorance. that is my point. he wasn't in india. he thought he was. the name stuck, despite it's inaccuracy. if that's not ignorance, i dunno what is.

Uh, so what should they have been called? I mean native american isn't the right term either. Just because Asians were on American soil before Europeans doesn't make them anymore native.

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As someone of Irish descent, I push to have the logo and name "Fighting Irish" removed from Notre Dame's sport teams. just "Irish" without the cartoon would suffice. And don't get me started on the Celtics guy. Apparently us Irish are chubby little ambassadors for Boston or fisticuffs in Indiana. Completely insensitive to my heritage.

We've heard that line before, but unless you're a leprechaun, it doesn't wash.

I think it's important to note that nobody is saying that someone who wears an Indians cap with Wahoo on it, or has a t-shirt with the logo on it is automatically a racist (or whatever the term would be - not sure if "racist" applies here or not.)

I don't think anyone's saying that, but it's worth saying. Simply liking a racist logo for what it connotes does not make one a racist.

Conversely, the fact that people like it for what it connotes aside from the racial imagery does not make the logo any less screamingly racist.

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regardless of what is acceptable today, for christopher columbus to call them indians was, by definition, ignorance. that is my point. he wasn't in india. he thought he was. the name stuck, despite it's inaccuracy. if that's not ignorance, i dunno what is.

Uh, so what should they have been called? I mean native american isn't the right term either. Just because Asians were on American soil before Europeans doesn't make them anymore native.

The weird thing is the difference between native American and Native American.

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We've heard that line before, but unless you're a leprechaun, it doesn't wash.

I'm not a leprechaun. Which is exactly why it's offensive. It's not very representative of my Irish heritage. I mean It's not the Notre Dame Fighting Leprechauns is it? Because that would be acceptable.

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To many people who grew up with the logo, it's just that - an icon that represents their team. How many of us grew up loving older logos that until you were older and really thought about it just didn't make any sense, or were really poorly done?

Chief Wahoo has always been offensive. The only thing that has changed is the country's attitude towards racial stereotypes. People who grew up in the 50's probably never gave a second thought to a restaurant named "Sambo's." Why? Because in the 50's, calling someone a "Sambo" was perfectly acceptable. I'm betting kids in the 50's just thought Sambo's was a fun name for a place to eat.

Maybe that will help illustrate why Wahoo is more than just "an icon that represents a team." To plenty of Native Americans, Chief Wahoo is every bit as offensive as a Sambo logo would be to African Americans. Yet I don't see anyone on here arguing that a Sambo logo would be OK because people grew up with it.

As I said earlier, for some reason, anything considered offensive towards Native Americans is not only still tolerated, it's often encouraged; Chief Wahoo and the Redskins both being fine examples of that. And there's still no good argument in favor of Chief Wahoo.

Poorly drawn? Didn't make any sense? Really, Vet?

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I'd like to see Chief Wahoo retired.

I don't have a problem with the name Indians, though, although the origin doesn't seems to be as pure as I thought. Nonetheless, origin isn't the end all be all. They could utilize the name in a manner that is respectful now--not rewrite history, but acknowledge a new direction. I think that'd be nice.

I don't know what that would be, but perhaps they could come to an agreement to create an American Indian museum or something of the sort. Something educational. That would be a cool thing.

I have an attachment to another debate on this issue, but setting that aside, I think one of the most unfortunate things about the American Indian in sports identities controversy is that it's become so much all or nothing. And when it becomes nothing, a chance to educated falls by the wayside.

I'm not saying these identities are currently utilizing that opportunity, anyways. In most cases they probably aren't. But I'd sure love to see more compromises where an identity is toned down or modified and then utilized as an educational gateway.

We don't learn enough or accurately enough about American Indians in this country. And in many instances they're just ignored or forgotten. These identities could provide an opportunity to bring about more learning. When they're completely removed, we lose an opportunity that would resonate with many.

So again, retire Wahoo, but embrace the name in other ways.

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... it never ceases to amaze me that blatant racism involving Native Americans isn't taken anywhere near as seriously as blatant racism involving...well...anyone else. If Chief Wahoo were black, oriental, hispanic, or Jewish, he would have vanished a very long time ago and any argument in his favor would be taken about as seriously as a KKK member justifying their membership in the Klan. But since Wahoo is "just an Indian", people can't seem to understand what the big deal is.

Bingo!

Sorry, not having feelings about the logo doesn't show my feelings on other racial topics.

Personally- race is irrelevant to me. What I find relevant is how much it looks nothing like an actual Indian.

Change the skin tone. Tone down the nose, maybe redo the headdress in an acceptable fashion (maybe "inspiration" from Sockalexis tribe) and your done.

Same issue with the fighting Irish logo, don't make him so ... Irish. (green, high socks, beard)

I'm not a racist, I just don't see racism in everything these days like so many do. Ex: Zimmerman and Martin. My take- he took a kids life, only question is was it self defense or murder. There's my line.

Not he shot a African American and you heard him curse in a censored 911 tape and you can't tell what was said.

Just my opinion.

Chief Wahoo in his current form is a poorly drawn insulting caraciture, but isn't intended to be racist. I don't think it would have stood this long if it were. He should change though, just like with the times.

Chief Wahoo can be altered- just how can you preserve his history to a franchise and a region while respecting who your supposed to be honoring.

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We've heard that line before, but unless you're a leprechaun, it doesn't wash.

I'm not a leprechaun. Which is exactly why it's offensive. It's not very representative of my Irish heritage. I mean It's not the Notre Dame Fighting Leprechauns is it? Because that would be acceptable.

I actually think he has you hear, Goth.

The Fighting Irish thing isn't a big deal because nobody has bothered to make a stink of it outside of as a fairly lame an overdone response to these topics.

But a leprechaun representing the Fighting Irish is representing Irish as if they're leprechauns. If someone wanted to be offended by that, it'd be relatively easy.

I guess your suggestion is that a Leprechaun is more equivalent to a Shamrock than it is to a caricature, but I think that's a bit of a stretch.

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To many people who grew up with the logo, it's just that - an icon that represents their team. How many of us grew up loving older logos that until you were older and really thought about it just didn't make any sense, or were really poorly done?

Chief Wahoo has always been offensive. The only thing that has changed is the country's attitude towards racial stereotypes. People who grew up in the 50's probably never gave a second thought to a restaurant named "Sambo's." Why? Because in the 50's, calling someone a "Sambo" was perfectly acceptable. I'm betting kids in the 50's just thought Sambo's was a fun name for a place to eat.

Maybe that will help illustrate why Wahoo is more than just "an icon that represents a team." To plenty of Native Americans, Chief Wahoo is every bit as offensive as a Sambo logo would be to African Americans. Yet I don't see anyone on here arguing that a Sambo logo would be OK because people grew up with it.

As I said earlier, for some reason, anything considered offensive towards Native Americans is not only still tolerated, it's often encouraged; Chief Wahoo and the Redskins both being fine examples of that. And there's still no good argument in favor of Chief Wahoo.

Poorly drawn? Didn't make any sense? Really, Vet?

You missed my point. Of course it's always been offensive. My point is simply that someone wearing it may be completely oblivious to the fact that it's offensive, and may not think of it as anything other than an identifying mark, even though it's obviously an insensitive caricature. When I was 9, I never even though about what the Flyers logo was. Just that it was their logo. It could have been some obscure Nazi symbol, and I would have known. Now once I knew that it was offending an entire race, I'd stop wearing it, but up until then, my wearing of it didn't necessarily mean that I was an insensitive buffoon.

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To many people who grew up with the logo, it's just that - an icon that represents their team. How many of us grew up loving older logos that until you were older and really thought about it just didn't make any sense, or were really poorly done?

Chief Wahoo has always been offensive. The only thing that has changed is the country's attitude towards racial stereotypes. People who grew up in the 50's probably never gave a second thought to a restaurant named "Sambo's." Why? Because in the 50's, calling someone a "Sambo" was perfectly acceptable. I'm betting kids in the 50's just thought Sambo's was a fun name for a place to eat.

Maybe that will help illustrate why Wahoo is more than just "an icon that represents a team." To plenty of Native Americans, Chief Wahoo is every bit as offensive as a Sambo logo would be to African Americans. Yet I don't see anyone on here arguing that a Sambo logo would be OK because people grew up with it.

As I said earlier, for some reason, anything considered offensive towards Native Americans is not only still tolerated, it's often encouraged; Chief Wahoo and the Redskins both being fine examples of that. And there's still no good argument in favor of Chief Wahoo.

Poorly drawn? Didn't make any sense? Really, Vet?

You missed my point. Of course it's always been offensive. My point is simply that someone wearing it may be completely oblivious to the fact that it's offensive, and may not think of it as anything other than an identifying mark, even though it's obviously an insensitive caricature. When I was 9, I never even though about what the Flyers logo was. Just that it was their logo. It could have been some obscure Nazi symbol, and I would have known. Now once I knew that it was offending an entire race, I'd stop wearing it, but up until then, my wearing of it didn't necessarily mean that I was an insensitive buffoon.

Fair enough.

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... it never ceases to amaze me that blatant racism involving Native Americans isn't taken anywhere near as seriously as blatant racism involving...well...anyone else. If Chief Wahoo were black, oriental, hispanic, or Jewish, he would have vanished a very long time ago and any argument in his favor would be taken about as seriously as a KKK member justifying their membership in the Klan. But since Wahoo is "just an Indian", people can't seem to understand what the big deal is.

Bingo!

Sorry, not having feelings about the logo doesn't show my feelings on other racial topics.

Personally- race is irrelevant to me. What I find relevant is how much it looks nothing like an actual Indian.

Change the skin tone. Tone down the nose, maybe redo the headdress in an acceptable fashion (maybe "inspiration" from Sockalexis tribe) and your done.

Same issue with the fighting Irish logo, don't make him so ... Irish.

I'm not a racist, I just don't see racism in everything these days like so many do. Ex: Zimmerman and Martin. My take- he took a kids life, only question is was it self defense or murder. There's my line.

Not he shot a African American and you heard him curse in a censored 911 tape and you can't tell what was said.

Just my opinion.

Chief Wahoo can be altered- just how can you preserve his history to a franchise and a region while respecting who your supposed to be honoring.

You not only completely missed the point, you also proved it. Nicely done. That's not an easy combo to pull off.

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