By Chuck Haga
The new logo, also unveiled Wednesday, is an Indian head over a crossed pair of cut-stone tomahawks.
Johnstown and its War Memorial Arena provided the setting for the classic 1977 movie “Slapshot” starring Paul Newman. The city was host to a NAHL team called the Johnstown Chiefs for 20 years until it moved to Greenville, S.C., in 2010.
The new name and logo provide links to the Chiefs, according to a statement from the team’s owners, who said they also chose “Tomahawks” and an Indian head logo “to symbolize the new team’s fighting spirit, exciting style of play and good sportsmanship,” according to a regional TV station’s report.
Thursday’s front page of the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat carried a photo of team captain Jason Spence wearing a jersey with the new logo. The story was headlined, “Back on the warpath.”
“Nobody brought it up,” he said.
“We had the Chiefs for a long time, and there was no controversy. The logo then was an arrowhead. And toward the end, the last owner introduced a mascot, ‘Tommy Hawk,’ a guy in a costume with an oversized head.”
There was no indication the new team owners planned to revive the Tommy Hawk mascot.
“It also may be a push back for all the success we Native Americans across the country have had in getting educational institutions to stop using Native Americans as mascots.”
An indigenous response
On its Facebook page, F.A.I.R. (For Accurate Indigenous Representation) posted the following:
We're going to ask our members to step up and be heard on this one.
North American Hockey League Junior A team in Johnstown, Pa., announced that it will be known as the Tomahawks.
They are in violation of the United Nations Declaration on The Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Articles 15 and 31. The U.S.A. is a signatory to this international Treaty.
"The Tomahawks’ first president, Rick Bouchard, is a UND graduate who played basketball for Coach Dave Gunther’s Sioux basketball teams in the late 1970s. His brother, Jim, is majority owner of the Tier II Junior A franchise."
Contact the NAHL:
North American Hockey League
5850 Town & Country Blvd.
Frisco, TX 75034
Telephone: (469) 252-3800
Fax: (214) 975-2250
E-Mail: Send a message to the NAHL
Cambria County War Memorial Arena
326 Napoleon Street Suite 115
Johnstown, PA 15901-1704
Not surprisingly, the owners are graduates of UND, home of the Fighting Sioux. It's pretty clearly they based their logo on the Fighting Sioux logo. No doubt they're trying to keep the "savage Indian" concept alive. And sending a message about how they won't buckle to political pressure.
For more on Indian mascots, see Oregon Bans Indian Mascots and NCAA Punishes UND for "Fighting Sioux."