The Swedish Gothenburg-based hockey team Frölunda Indians is now considering scrapping the Indian from their logo and jerseys, because this image may be perceived as offensive.
According to Frölunda chairman Mats Grauers, the board is aware that the club will not get away with this “difficult issue”. He is therefore prepared for a change.
“We must have respect for the fact that it can be perceived as offensive. We do not experience it that way, because we have always dressed it with something else, and we do not really have that story in Sweden. But if it is, it is clear that we must look at it and take the consequences of it somehow”, Frölunda's chairman Mats Grauers told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
Grauers admitted that the deliberations are largely being influenced by political developments in the US.
“I don't think we have a history in Sweden that makes the logo offensive. But the debate in North America is undeniably strong, not least now”, Grauers told national broadcaster SVT.
The issue sparked polarising reactions.
“There are quite a few stereotypes that are not maliciously meant, but still stand in the way of real people”, writer Nathan Hamelberg said.
By contrast, journalist Adam Cwejman of the Göteborgs-Posten's editorial staff maintained that the problem with the logo simply does not exist, as it is neither racist nor a caricature of anything.
“There are real problems that have to do with racism and discrimination, and this is not one of them”, Cwejman told.
Even Frölunda's own team captain Joel Lundqvist would like to keep the Indian logo.
“For me, the Indian stands for something positive. For the fighting spirit and for never giving up. It's really positively charged. I think it has been a strong brand, we have had success with it - and for me, an Indian is a warrior, a hunter, a tough one. I think it has been a suitable name to have”, Lundqvist said. “In a way it would be sad to leave the Indian behind”, he added.
On social media, the opinions were equally divided.
Some argued that Native Americans are not “Indians” and their culture should not be used as a commodity.
Indigenous Americans are NOT "INDIANS", and their culture should not be used a commodity!— Monica Munificence (@espritdelionne) July 8, 2020
"Frölunda Indians" pic.twitter.com/yyv7hEMkk0
“Finally! The year is 2020 and then Frölunda realises that the slur for Native Americans is not so nice?!”
Others thought the Indians part was a point of pride.
“Speaking of the Indian on the Frölunda sweaters and the name Indians. I think it's delicious. And I see it as a tribute to the indigenous people!”
Apropå Indiandekalen på Frölundatröjorna och namnet Indians. Jag tycker det är läckert. Och jag ser det som en hyllning till ursprungsbefolkningen! pic.twitter.com/P71pcWvvzV— Leif Boork (@LBoork) July 6, 2020
"Just wondering what was wrong with the old, classic name Västra Frölunda? A name that oozes history, solidity, and proximity to geographical location. Whereas 'Indians'? Embarrassment that echoes empty 90s Americanisation”.
Undrar bara stilla vad det var för fel på det gamla , klassiska namnet Västra Frölunda? Ett namn som osar av, historik, gedigenhet och närhet till geografisk belägenhet osv. ”Indians”? Pinsamhet som ekar tomt av amerikaniserat 90-talsfåneri.— Johan Swensson (@swensson_johan) July 6, 2020
“I still think they made the right decision. Frölunda Rabbits fit better than Frölunda Indians and so it is of course good with some sponsorship money”, another one scoffed, offering a template for a new logo.
Jag tycker nog ändå att de fattade rätt beslut. Frölunda Rabbits passar bättre än Frölunda Indians och så är det så klart bra med lite sponsorpengar. pic.twitter.com/uLJ6iSlzCu— Andreas Nordh (@nordhofsweden) July 8, 2020
The Frölunda Hockey Club was founded in 1938 and adopted the name Indians prior to the 1995/1996 season as a reference to the successful 1960s, when fans called them the Wild West in a nod to their location in the western Frölunda district. The Indians were chosen specifically to avoid reference to firearms, unlike cowboys. Frölunda have won the national championship title five times, in 1965, 2003, 2005, 2016, and 2019.
This is not the first time the club's logo has been the subject of discussion and criticism. In 2015, a report was made to the Discrimination Ombudsman, in which the symbol was considered offensive.