The Chicago Blackhawks announced on Wednesday that costume headdresses would be banned from home games and team events. The decision, according to a statement the team released, was made to "formalize" expectations of fans creating "an atmosphere of respect" towards Native Americans.
"Moving forward, headdresses will be prohibited for fans entering Blackhawks-sanctioned events or the United Center when Blackhawks home games resume," the team statement continued. "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."
The Blackhawks are not the first NHL team that had to ban headdresses in response to the Chicago franchise coming to town. In 2015, the owner of the Winnipeg Jets banned fake Native headdresses from games after a visiting Blackhawks fan donned one the season prior. Owner Mark Chipman met with First Nations leaders before coming to this decision.
Earlier this month, the team announced that it would be keeping its name and logo, and would commit to increasing awareness of Native American culture and the legacy of the famous Sauk leader who the team is named after, Black Hawk. While escaping scrutiny at the level of MLB's Cleveland Indians or the NFL's Washington Football Team, there are still those in the Native community who aren't fond of the imagery and name the team uses.
The Blackhawks are one of the clubs participating in the NHL's 24-team postseason. There is no word on when fans will be allowed to watch live games at the United Center again.