It was January 2014 and the Seahawks were about to head to the Superbowl for the first time in years. Everyone seemed to be getting into the Seahawks craze.
That’s when a Twitter user asked the Burke if the team’s logo had any Native American influences. I took that question to the Burke’s former curator of Northwest Native Art, Robin Wright, and she recalled hearing that it did have a Native art connection and decided to do some research into the topic.
Sure enough, Robin ended up finding a photograph of a large Kwakwaka’wakw mask in an old black-and-white book from the 50s that closely resembled the original Seahawks logo! We got to work putting together a blog article for the Burke website with her findings.
I created a simple graphic that showed the old logo facing the mask in the book to show the striking resemblance.
It went viral.
Pretty soon we had local and national media requesting interviews with Robin, Native artists creating new Seahawk-inspired artworks after hearing about the connection, even the Seahawks got in touch with us to feature the story on their blog.
Within a week the story had reached a small university museum in Maine and they contacted the Burke to let us know the mask was in their collection. They weren’t aware of its connection to the Seahawks logo, so that was exciting news! I documented the latest developments on our blog and the story received another wave of attention.
We eventually created a Kickstarter campaign to fundraise to transport and display the mask at the Burke Museum as part of our Here & Now: Native Artists Inspired exhibit. Upon its arrival, we invited Native communities from throughout the region to participate in a welcome ceremony / press event.
We learned even more about the mask when it was at the Burke, and visitors were thrilled to see it in person.
We even hosted a Seahawks pep rally in January 2015—one year after the mask discovery—when the Seahawks returned to the Superbowl for a second year.
The mask eventually returned to the Hudson Museum in Maine, but the story and memory of this discovery live on in people’s minds. We regularly have people refer to the Burke as the place with the Seahawks mask. It’s a great entry point to share what we do have on display currently.
It’s crazy to think that this all started with a simple tweet to the Burke Museum.