Renowned artist Carson Waterman’s logo featured throughout Dec. 11 game
December 09, 2021 | www.nhl.com/sabres
Carson Waterman was honored when the Buffalo Sabres contacted him to do a commissioned design that embodies his Native American roots.
The logo was featured throughout the Sabres’ first Native American Heritage Night presented by Seneca Resorts and Casinos against the Washington Capitals.
Waterman, a renowned Native American artist based in Salamanca, N.Y., knew he wanted to create a design featuring Native images specific to the area. The final logo is Waterman’s personal interpretation and just one of the many ways Sabres fans can hopefully learn more about Native American culture.
To commemorate Native Americans, specifically the Seneca Nation, Waterman utilized the colors of white and purple for the Sabres emblem and incorporated a realistic example of a headdress. Turkey, eagle and hawk feathers surround the logo.
“I focus on color a lot,” Waterman said. “People will comment to me that they know my work because of the color choices I have. When I paint, I save my paint, and then I use it and in other paintings, and then you end up with a lot of colors over time.”
All the nations in the Iroquois Confederacy – the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora – all have their own specific headdress. The single eagle feather at the top of the headdress represents the Seneca Nation.
“When our leadership chiefs spoke at our meetings, you could tell what nation they were from by their style headdress,” Waterman said.
Another critical aspect of the design are the long braids featured on each side of the logo.
“The braids coming down in white and purple are natural from the quahog clamshell. These shells came from the Atlantic Ocean and were brought to this land from trade with the Wampanoag Nation for different furs,” Waterman said. “When you break the shell into pieces, you select the purple and make a bead from it, and you choose the white and make a bead from it.”
Waterman has made it his mission as an artist to provide individuals with the correct illustrations of these headdresses through his pieces over the past 40 years. In the logo created for Native American Heritage Night, he sought to accurately portray the compact-style headdress used in much of his work. (Check out Carson’s website: https://carsonwaterman.webs.com/)
“Everything I’ve been doing has been reinforcing the correct elements of my culture,” he said. “Western Plain tribes like the Navajo and Zuni get their influences from designs on rattlesnakes, lizards, and flowers that grow on cactuses.”
Fans had the chance to bid on a limited edition print of Waterman’s design, which was autographed by the 2021-22 Buffalo Sabres team. (Refer to photo on the previous page) Proceeds benefited the Native Arts Collective (NACo). Fans also got a chance to purchase a limited edition long-sleeve T-shirt featuring Waterman’s Sabres design. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each shirt benefited the Native American Community Services of Erie & Niagara Counties, Inc.
Waterman and the Sabres connected through Waterman’s longtime friend and art connoisseur Dave Kimelberg.
Kimelberg, a fellow member of the Seneca Nation, who operates K Art, one of the few Native American-owned commercial art galleries. The gallery, located on Main Street in Buffalo, has featured Waterman’s past work, which includes deceptions of Seneca traditions, enforcing the proper versions of their culture.
After providing five rough sketches of the Native American Heritage Night logo to Kimelberg to submit to the team on his behalf, the two sides agreed on the current design.
“His style is so conducive to what the project is attempting to accomplish,” Kimelberg said. “Carson is an acclaimed Native and Seneca artist, so I knew what the potential of the project could be.”
The long-time friends are fortunate to be a part of the Sabres’ inaugural event. When fans see the logo for the first time, Waterman and Kimelberg hope it creates a bond between the Sabres and the Native American community.
“I think it’s great. I feel very proud that they would go out of their way to do this,” Waterman said. “Maybe this will start a trend of other teams in Buffalo embracing the Native American culture for it to continue to evolve. This experience has made me a pretty big Sabres fan, I can tell you that.”