Major US baseball team to change ‘unacceptable’ team name

Cleveland Indians baseball team has announced it will change its name, saying it is “no longer acceptable in our world”.

Paul Dolan, the team’s owner, said the title it has been using since 1915 would be dropped after the 2021 season ends.

Speaking to The Associated Press he said: “The name is no longer acceptable in our world.”

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 30: Owner and CEO of the Cleveland Indians Paul Dolan prior to the Hall of Fame induction before the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Oakland Athletics at Progressive Field on July 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Image:Owner and CEO Paul Dolan said he hoped the new name would take the team ‘through multiple centuries’

The team will now begin the “difficult and complex process” to identify a new name, he added.

Following the announcement, Donald Trump took to Twitter to belittle the move.

The outgoing president wrote: “Oh no! What is going on? This is not good news, even for ‘Indians’. Cancel culture at work!”

The move follows months of meetings with groups, including Native Americans, who have sought the removal of a name many feel is culturally inappropriate.

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The term Indians is considered offensive by many Native Americans because of the origins of its use.

European explorers and traders used it for centuries to refer collectively to all native people of the Americas, effectively conflating them with inhabitants of the Asian subcontinent, which itself was often labelled “India”.

Oh no! What is going on? This is not good news, even for “Indians”. Cancel culture at work!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 14, 2020

The name change follows a similar decision by Washington’s NFL team earlier this year.

The team stopped using the moniker the Redskins – a term considered a slur towards Native Americans – and are now known as the Washington Football Team.

However, Mr Dolan said Cleveland would not adopt a similar interim name until choosing its new one.

“We don’t want to be the Cleveland Baseball Team or some other interim name,” he said, adding that he hoped the new name would “hopefully take us through multiple centuries”.

As Cleveland considers new names, Mr Dolan said Tribe, the team’s popular nickname for decades, had been ruled out.

Protestors express their disapproval of the Cleveland Indians Chief Wahoo
Image:Protesters express their disapproval of the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo in 2018
Protestors express their disapproval of the Cleveland Indians Chief Wahoo logo on April 6, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio
Image:The decision has been welcomed by local groups who sought the removal of the name

The decision was welcomed by Native American groups that met with the club, which since 2018 has been phasing out use of its “Chief Wahoo” mascot and logo – a caricature of a Native American with a red face.

“The team made a genuine effort to listen and learn,” said Cynthia Connolly, executive board member of the Lake Erie Native American Council in the Cleveland Indigenous Coalition.

“We hope this serves as a blueprint for other professional teams and the 200-plus high school teams in the Ohio area.

“If there is a school or team that truly cares about fighting racism, these mascots cannot coexist.”

Cleveland’s announcement was praised by Washington NFL coach Ron Rivera. It was within hours of his team’s name change that Mr Dolan announced a thorough review of Cleveland’s name.

Mr Rivera said: “Just because they changed the name doesn’t mean I stop loving the players, stop loving the manager.

“If it makes a group of people feel less marginalised, then I’m all for it.”

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The team has not stopped selling merchandise bearing the grinning, cartoonish figure of Wahoo, but Mr Dolan said any profits from future sales would go to Native American organisations or causes supporting Native Americans.

The name change comes after of a wave of social unrest and protests in the US in 2020.

Mr Dolan said his “awakening or epiphany” came following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in May after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes while arresting him.

However, three other major league teams who use Native American names – MLB’s Atlanta Braves, the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks – have said they have no plans to change their branding.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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