Earlier this year, the sports world saw the National Football League’s (NFL) Washington franchise drop its nickname, “The Redskins,” a derogatory term for Native Americans. Following in Washington’s footsteps, another sports franchise in America is choosing to drop a name that has long offended Native Americans.
Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Cleveland franchise has played under the “Indians” nickname for 105 years and even had a logo featuring a silly-looking caricature of a Native American chief. On Monday, however, the Cleveland franchise announced it would shed its nickname and its Native American imagery after years of protests against the name.
Although protests against the “Indians’ name have become commonplace outside the team’s stadium for years, the team’s owner Paul Dolan has been reluctant to change the name. But with the NFL’s Washington franchise dropping its derogatory name and continued outcry against Cleveland’s name, Dolan has essentially been forced to abandon the name. Now he has vowed to meet with Native American groups and gauge their thoughts as the baseball team tries to reinvent its identity.
“This is the culmination of decades of work,” said the Oneida Nation of New York, which led the Change the Mascot Movement. “Groups like the National Congress of American Indians passed resolutions for decades on this, social science has made clear these names are harmful and Cleveland got out in front of it and they’re leading, and rather than having this hanging over their heads, they’re charting a new path.”
There has been no announcement about a new name, though many believe the team will revert to the name of a 19th-century baseball team from Cleveland known as “The Spiders.”