After nearly 70 years, the Cleveland Indians along with Major League Baseball announced in January that the team would be retiring the Chief Wahoo logo for the start of their 2019 campaign. The decision to do so did not come as a surprise to many, as the Indians have been in communication with Major League Baseball about finding an appropriate solution.
Since 2014, there has been a great deal of controversy in regard to whether the Cleveland Indians should keep their logo or change it. Various Native American groups have advocated for the change long before then. In an NBC News report from 2014, the year that many discussions about the issue started, Robert Roche, a member of People Not Mascots, stated “It’s been offensive since day one.” The report from NBC surfaced around the same time that the Washington Redskins of the National Football League were stripped of their trademark by the US Patent and Trademark Office, as the term Red Skin is widely thought of as a racial slur.
In the announcement that went out this past Monday, it was reported that Paul Dolan, owner of the Indians, felt that longtime fans would be unsupportive of the decision, as many are attached due to the long-standing history that the logo has being associated with the Indians organization. However, Dolan is in agreement with the decision of Major League Baseball.
The Indians have been cooperative with Major League Baseball, as the organization understands that the logo is considered by many to be offensive. The Native American population has felt this way since the start, even before the logo came about and the team name was changed to the Indians in 1915. Other teams with names or logos that are considered offensive to Native Americans are resisting the movement. The Washington Redskins have shown no interest in working towards a solution regarding changing the team name or logo. There are some teams, such as the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League, that have made compromises, such as discouraging fans to come to games dressed up as Native Americans and minimizing the time those fans are shown on air during games.
Before the decision to abandon the long time logo, the Indians took measures to cut back their use of Chief Wahoo starting in 2014 when the team introduced a block C that they have used since as their number one insignia. While many fans and payers feel that the logo has a great deal of franchise history surrounded by it, which it most certainly does – other players, such as 2018 Hall of Fame Inductee, Jim Thome feel that the change is necessary. In a report from CBS Sports, Thome stated, “I know my decision would be to wear the 'C' because I think it's the right thing to do.”
Many are hopeful that this decision made by the MLB and the Indians will pave the way for other teams such as the Redskins to do the same.