The Cleveland Indians baseball team has long been criticized for its name and logo which inaccurately depict Native American culture. For several decades the team’s logo has been Chief Wahoo, a cartoon version of a Native American chief. The use of the name and particularly this logo has recently come under fire by numerous activists, including some actual Native American chiefs.
Many of these chiefs have been particularly upset that Chief Wahoo is being used by a baseball team. Compared to the traditional Native American sport of lacrosse, baseball is slower paced and much less aggressive. These chiefs do not feel that baseball is an accurate depiction of their culture and have even gone so far as to say that it “shouldn’t be a sport”, and it is a “disgrace to the spirit of the land”.
Fans of the team are divided on the issue. Many fans do not approve of the name and choose instead to call the team the Cleveland Clevelands, a name as unoriginal as The Los Angeles Angels (Translated from spanish as The The Angels Angels). Several fans fully support the team’s name, and even show up to games in redface wearing faux-feather headdresses. This behaviour has been called extremely offensive by many Native Americans and others.
Previously, when complained to about these fans, the Cleveland Indians administration refused to address the problem, denying that it was their fault. “What the fans choose to wear to a game is something that we cannot control. Their actions are completely unrelated to the Indians brand and Chief Wahoo.” On numerous occasions, the administration has also refused requests to rebrand, saying that the brand’s imagery is a celebration of Native American culture and not a racist appropriation of it.
In response to comments made by President Obama about the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians, the baseball club has finally announced that it will be rebranding in time for the 2015 season.
The name will not change, but the club has designed a new logo. The new logo depicts a yogi wearing traditional Indian clothing while sitting cross-legged in a meditative pose. “We realized that Chief Wahoo is actually Native American and not Indian. The new logo should align more with the team name” said Indians President, Mark Shapiro.
Immediately after the logo was unveiled, the team received a flood of complaints from Indian people both in India and America. Many of these people are upset that their culture is being used by a baseball team. These Indians believe that baseball isn’t a “real sport” when compared to the “obviously superior” sport of cricket.