Fans of the Seattle Seahawks are forever curious about the origins of the team’s iconic logo. It was first designed in 1975 when the Seahawks formed as an expansion team. Then-general manager Ted Thompson wanted the Seahawks’ logo to reflect “Northwest Indian culture,” reports the Burke Museum.
Native American iconography is nothing new in sports though it has spawned its fair share of controversy throughout history.
Native American influence on NFL teams
The Pacific Northwest is home to many Native Americans known for their beautiful artwork and innovations. The Seahawks team counts many fans among them and is a welcome, active part of the local Native community.
The city of Seattle itself is named after a Native man hailing from the Suquamish and Duwamish people. So it only makes sense to celebrate the rich heritage. To most Native Americans, the Seahawks do just that.
Most people don’t feel the same way about the Washington Redskins, whose name dredges up a history of racism and inequity. The team’s logo features a stereotypical side portrait of a Native American within a yellow circle adorned with two feathers. But even after years of controversy, the Redskins moniker remains.
What inspired the Seattle Seahawks logo?
A Native American eagle mask influenced the Seattle Seahawks logo design. In the late 19th century, members of Vancouver Island’s Kwakwaka’wakw tribe carved the original piece. Masks of this kind were used in ceremonial dances to tell family stories. A photo of the mask appeared in a book about Pacific Northwest art. It caught the attention of the franchise’s designers.
Local artist Marvin Oliver received the chosen logo and completed the final rendition for the Seahawks. It remained the same for 20 years. In 2002, the Seahawks franchise decided to give the beloved logo a fiercer look. They streamlined the design and removed the bird’s softened eyelids. The team’s colors also changed from royal blue to navy blue and from light blue to gray.
In 2017, the Seahawks experimented with an alternative logo met with jokes on social media. Twitter was not impressed, either. The new logo gave a glimpse of what the bird would look like from the front. For the few who actually like the odd alternative logo, it’s still available on assorted merchandise in the Pro Shop.
What does Russell Wilson think?
Russell Wilson oozes charm but he’s also one of the most talented NFL quarterbacks. This didn’t stop critics from questioning his true ethnicity in 2014. The Super Bowl XLVIII champion remained undaunted, patiently asserting that he was proud of his heritage. He shared that he was part Native American.
This came as good news to Seahawks fans who embraced Wison’s ethnicity with pride even though he did not specify a particular Tribe or Nation. The superstar gives back to the community in many ways and this, it turns out, is more than good enough.
The Seattle Seahawks logo was indeed copied from Native American art but no one is complaining. The logo continues to be a positive celebration of the local Native American culture. The team brings the diverse community together both as diehard fans and as proud Seattle citizens. It doesn’t get any better than that.