O.K., here’s a challenge for all Chicago Blackhawks fans, from Mayor Daley with his Indian logo cap, to the fans wearing knee-length war bonnets and war paint.
If you really want to Commit to the Indian, as the old Blackhawks saying goes, you’re going to have to shave the sides of your head, and get your ears pierced.
I know that sounds awfully punk rock, but when it came to fashion, Chief Black Hawk was 150 years ahead of his time. He didn’t wear a feathered headdress. That look belonged to Plains Indians, especially the Lakota Sioux. As a Sauk, Black Hawk was a Woodland Indian. When he wanted to look tough, he sported a Mohawk, the hairstyle named after the toughest tribe east of the Mississippi. In the most famous etching of Black Hawk, his crest of hair is red and he’s wearing jewelry dangling from his upper earlobes. That would be an intimidating playoff look for the team, too. Much more bellicose than beards.
Unlike Atlanta Braves fans with their tomahawk chop, Cleveland Indians fans with their cartoon Chief Wahoo, or Washington Redskins fans with their racist nickname, Blackhawks fans don’t have an excuse for getting the look or the symbols wrong. Their team is named for a real person, who was born in modern-day Rock Island, fought for the British in the War of 1812, and led a revolt against white settlers in the 1830s. Besides a hockey team, Chief Black Hawk also has his own historic site, with a statue of the man himself wearing a Mohawk. And there’s a 48-foot-tall Lorado Taft sculpture in Oregon, Illinois, that was inspired by Black Hawk, although the likeness wears long hair.
We don’t really expect Mayor Daley to wear a Mohawk. With his thinning locks, it probably wouldn’t stand up. But we’d love to see a Blackhawks fan who actually looks like Chief Black Hawk, not like these clowns who just stepped out of Fantasy Costumes on Milwaukee Avenue, after hitting every bar in Portage Park. Send us a photo of yourself in a Mohawk and a Blackhawks jersey, and we’ll run it: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commit to the Indian! It’ll grow back after the playoffs.