Time to Change Our Attitude: Appropriation of Aboriginal and First Nations imagery by sports teams

The original logo/team name for the proposed Ottawa NBL team.

The original logo/team name for the proposed Ottawa NBL team.

I recently read a great article written by Mike Commito for ActiveHistory.ca about the use of racist imagery/names by professional sports teams. Commito does an excellent job of examining arguments  on why teams such as the Washington Redskins should keep their logo and names, and does an even better job of providing evidence as to why these arguments are flawed.

At a dinner party this weekend the topic of sports came up and I mentioned the article, surprisingly receiving some resistance. I specifically made reference to Ottawa’s new basketball team, the SkyHawks, which was originally to be named the TomaHawks. Personally, the reasons why both First Nations and the public  may be offended and uncomfortable with the name was obvious. However when I provided this example to the other dinner party attendees, I was surprised by the number of people who argued that the First Nations community hadn’t been upset with the name (how they would know I am not sure as none were members/have contact with Ottawa’s First Nations community), and that after all it referred to a weapon not a racist name (They were actually mistaken–the team owner Gus Takkale said that rather than refer to a weapon the name was a reference to the style of basketball dunk.)

I’m curious to know what you think: Do you think that the Ottawa basketball team should have changed their name to the SkyHawks based on TomaHawks being offensive, or do you think they should have kept their original name?



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