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'It's time to take a step forward': Portland Winterhawks replace Native American logo and mascot

The team unveiled the new logo, the head of a red-tailed hawk, on Wednesday.
Credit: Portland Winterhawks
The Portland Winterhawks' new logo.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Winterhawks unveiled a new logo Wednesday, retiring its Native American logo and mascot after 45 years.

The team's online storefront has the new logo emblazoned across the top of the webpage with the following message: "It's time to take a step forward. To define our own identity - our own look, our own feel, our own experience. It's time to build community. It's time for the future."

The Winterhawks' new primary logo is the head of a red-tailed hawk, featuring a sharp, black-tipped beak and snowy white feathers, representing winter and ice. The logo also contains two feathers in the hawk's head designed as a nod to the feathers in the previous logo. The base of the hawk's head is a silhouette of Mount Hood and the initials "W" and "H" are hidden in the snow peaks.

"We are so proud to finally have our own identity," said Michael Kramer, owner and managing partner of the franchise. "We feel our new look is fresh and unique, one that we are excited about and believe our community will be as well."

The team also unveiled a second logo, which features a gold "P" for Portland, two hockey sticks, a banner bearing the name "Winterhawks," and the words, "Est. 1976." The team's new wordmark has a smaller "PORTLAND" in red atop a bold "WINTERHAWKS" in black and gray.

"Under a new ownership group led by Michael Kramer and Kerry Preete, the Portland Winterhawks are embarking on a new chapter in franchise history, so it is only fitting they do so with a new primary logo design that truly represents Portland, the Pacific Northwest and its great fanbase," said WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. "The Winterhawks have a long history of success in the Portland market and I am confident their passionate fans will embrace this fresh approach and unique design when the WHL regular season opens in October."

The Winterhawks announced a new partnership with local apparel and accessories company Portland Gear to be the team's official supplier. Portland Gear, which was founded by Portland native and former University of Oregon student Marcus Harvey, has also produced collaborations with the Portland Trail Blazers, Portland Timbers, Portland Thorns and University of Portland.

Portland Gear consulted in the design of the team's new branding. According to The Oregonian's John Canzano, Portland Gear commissioned designer Brian Gundell to help work on the logo.

Canzano shared the history of the Winterhawks' old logo in a column this week. According to Canzano, the Winterhawks, looking for a set of jerseys in 1976, accepted a donation of an old set from the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks. "The iconic Illinois Sauk Nation figure made the trip to Portland on the chest, where it’s been squatting for 45 years," Canzano wrote.

Teams with Native American names, logos and mascots have faced increased pressure from Native American groups and other organizations and individuals over the years to change their branding. The Winterhawks are no exception.

Last year, Portland's Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) started a petition asking the team to change its branding. The petition garnered more than 4,000 signatures.

"I think we are an apolitical organization," said Kramer. "We’re not trying to take a side. We know there are people that like that logo, people that don’t like the logo. We know that people are going to like this, be upset we moved from the old logo. We’re not trying to make a political statement one way or the other. We’re just trying to say here’s who we are and we think this is representative of who we are."

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