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Friends both Internet and Real have insisted for years that the NHL franchise naming itself for a 19th-century war chief was an honor to him.
He should be happy for having everything of value in his life taken from him, as long as he gets a good NHL logo.
There is a comfortable hubris to this point of view because it requires no proof because there is none. It's a talking point.
The Blackhawks themselves make the same non-evidentiary case by occasionally trotting out Native Americans during game ceremonies. Token gestures are pretenses.
None of that posing or fandom self congratulation counts as actual "honoring" of anyone.
But one idea would.
I propose the Hawks honor his legacy by ensuring a better future for his cultural heirs. It's a challenge for which there need be no losers.
I propose the Chicago Blackhawks increase contributions to their charitable foundation and fund college educations in perpetuity for every graduate of the Meskwaki Settlement School in Tama, Iowa. The 1,500 human remnants of the Meskwaki Nation (the original Sauks of Blackhawk's band on the Mississippi) live there.
The Meskwaki Nation members are officially registered and recognized as legitimate for having 1/8 blood relationship to the original tribe. There are descendants of Black Hawk who live there. They have federal standing and identity.
The Settlement School in Tama has 70 K-12 students and a half-dozen high school graduates annually. I propose the Chicago Blackhawks guarantee that graduating class and each class that follows permanent matriculation to a great college of their families' choosing - the University of Iowa, Iowa State or perhaps Northwestern. The team should guarantee and administer this process.
Best guess is that a half-dozen grads in each of four college academic years would run the Blackhawks about $1 million. Too much?
For a franchise that Forbes rates is worth $1 billion with an annual revenue of $208 million, spending $1 million on college educations for 25 teens does not seem so exorbitant.
It's a sharing that Chicago's hockey fans could employ to prove their respect for the team's namesake.
This Monday is the Meskwaki National Day, when they celebrate court victories that gave them permanent legal identity and protection. The Sauk survivors have a long history of beating U.S. federal legal arguments in court every time they engage. But those victories did not guarantee them or their children prosperity.
Of the two dozen charities that are currently beneficiaries of the Blackhawks foundation, only an art gallery seems to have to have any direct connection to Native Americans, and none of the Blackhawks' contributions go directly to tribal issues.
This would not solve the issue of "honoring" the first Blackhawk, but it's a good start. And mostly, this is the right time historically to rebalance the scales by repaying a debt.
With the Meskwaki Nation's approval, the Chicago Blackhawks can stand on the right side of history.
The scholarships would be a tangible value bestowed in his honor. An actual cultural outreach guarantees better futures for people who have some right to be called his children.
Talk is cheap, but a degree from Harvard, Stanford or Northwestern is not.
Blackhawk's heirs need a little help in the 21st century.
What say you, Blackhawks. You up for a real game?
Previously: Blackhawk's Life Mattered.
Recently by David Rutter:
* On Boredom.
David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.
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