After over a century as the Cleveland Indians, the baseball team will finally change its controversial team name this week.
The New York Times first reported that the team — which had first phased out and ultimately eliminated its longtime Chief Wahoo logo in recent seasons — would also formally change its moniker following a July statement where the baseball franchise stated that they would “determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.” The announcement came after years of protests against the team name from both Native American groups and baseball fans.
“The recent social unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice,” the team said at the time. “We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality. Our organization fully recognizes our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community.”
The organization issued a statement on Monday in which they outlined how they’ve been reaching out to different native communities since July to gauge how the team name affected them. Owner and chairman Paul Dolan said: “Hearing firsthand the stories and experiences of Native American people, we gained a deep understanding of how tribal communities feel about the team name and the detrimental effects it has on them. … While Indians will always be a part of our history, it is time to move forward and work to unify our stakeholders and fans through a new name.”
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) December 14, 2020
The soon-to-be-former Indians would join the now-former Washington Redskins — and, before them, the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux — in changing team names and logos that were racially insensitive toward Native Americans and indigenous people. Earlier this year, following years of criticism, the Washington NFL team renamed themselves, for at least this season, the Washington Football Club.
The Cleveland Indians have played under that team name since 1915. It’s unclear whether the franchise will switch from their original name prior to the 2021 season or the following season, as well as what the possible replacement team name is.