After years of protests from fans and indigenous American groups, the Cleveland Indians have decided to change the name of their team and move away from a moniker that has long been criticized as racist, three people familiar before the decision said Sunday.
The move is a July decision by the NFL Washington national football team that the use of the name has long been considered racial slander and is part of a larger national racial debate that has escalated this year amid protests of regular racism and police violence.
The three people said Cleveland could already announce his plans this week, who were anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
It is not immediately clear what the exact steps of Cleveland will be beyond throwing away the names of the Indians. The transition to the new name involves many logistical considerations, including working with unified manufacturers and other companies producing team equipment and stadium signs.
One man said Cleveland planned to keep the Indians ’names and uniforms for the 2021 season while already working on the shift in 2022.
Cleveland spent most of the year before the 2019 season by taking out the Chief Wahoo cartoon mascot logos and images.
One option the team is considering is two of the people saying they will move forward without a surrogate name – much like the Washington national football team went on – and then come up with a new name in consultation with the public.
The Cleveland baseball franchise has been known as Indians since 1915, but Indigenous American groups and others have been opposed to the use of indigenous names, mascots, and images for sports teams for decades, insisting they are humiliating and racist. The name of Cleveland and the old name of Washington were among the most conspicuous examples, and they were the targets of extensive change campaigns.
The Cleveland team did not comment immediately.
Other professional sports teams, including the Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Blackhawks, have stated in recent months that they have no plans to change their names. Many universities and high schools have long since abandoned indigenous American names and mascots, but in recent months, there has been an increased effort to address names at all levels of U.S. sports.
For Cleveland, the process began when he announced the retirement of his long-established mascot, Chief Wahoo, a cartoon cartoon that was considered particularly offensive. Many applauded the decision, but insisted that the team name should also be included.
Then in July, a few hours after Washington announced it would change its name (under pressure from key sponsors such as FedEx, Pepsi and Nike), Cleveland said it would “thoroughly review” its nickname. The team consulted with a number of Native American groups, both in Ohio and nationally.
“We are committed to involving our community and relevant stakeholders to determine the best path to our team name,” the team said in a July statement.
Native American groups usually show up at Cleveland’s home overture every spring, sometimes against the withering verbal abuse of fans as they enter the stadium. In recent years, the team has worked with protesters and police to help ensure protesters ’safety and their right to free and peaceful expression.
The club said the name was originally made in honor of a former player, Louis Sockalexis, who in the 19th century. Some have suggested that Cleveland use the name Spiders in return.
Cleveland’s name has long been associated with the Chief Wahoo logo. The removal of the image involved the removal of the logo from the uniforms as well as from the stadium walls and banner. A “C” block was adopted in its place.
“Our organization fully recognizes that the name of our team is the most spectacular way we connect with the community,” the team said in a July statement.