After several months of deliberations, the Cleveland Indians announced they will be ending the use of the Indians nickname. Is this wokeness gone awry or an appropriate move?
In exclusive reporting, the New York Times reported the Cleveland Indians will begin the search for a new official team name after more than a century under their current designation.
- The Cleveland Indians confirmed reports they will be changing the franchise’s nickname, a name “no longer acceptable in our world” according to team owner Paul Dolan, but have not announced a timeline for the change.
- The statement comes after the team removed Chief Wahoo signage from its uniforms last year and a statement in July of this year that reviewing the team name would be “the best path forward.”
- Despite removing Chief Wahoo from players’ uniforms and inside their stadium, merchandise adorned by the mascot is still available for purchase, with proceeds would go to “causes supporting Native Americans.”
- 2021 will be the final season played under the “Indians” moniker and while many nicknames will be under consideration, the Indians’ unofficial nickname the “Tribe” will not be among them.
- The Cleveland Indians’ announcement became a topic in the U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia, as Sens. Loeffler and Perdue issued a joint statement defending the Atlanta Braves franchise, another high-profile sports franchise targeted by Native American groups for its name.
- The team misspelled “Cleveland” in the Monday press release announcing the change.
- The New York Times broke the story Sunday evening, and presented it as part of a wider shift away from using Native American imagery and names in professional and amateur sports, citing the NFL franchise Washington Redskins dropping the name and playing as the Washington Football Team in the interim.
- The Nation framed the name change in the context of a generational sea change among sports fans, as younger, more activist-minded Americans become the dominant marketing force.
- NBC News noted the Indians by signing Louis Sockalexis, a Native American player in 1897, framing the franchise’s name as a slur towards Sockalexis which developed into the official designation.
- David Marcus wrote for The Federalist that the name change announcement is “corporate wokeness”, citing no demands for the Smithsonian to change the name of the National Museum of the American Indian and polling that suggested Native Americans were not offended by the Washington Redskins name.
- National Review framed the reaction from Native American groups as positive for the Cleveland Indians, quoting a group saying the Cleveland Indians are now leaders in the effort “rather than having this hanging over their heads.” Jim Geraghty shares skepticism over the altruistic motive, saying rebranding usually results in a surge of merchandise sales and changing the team name will do little to lift up the many Native Americans currently in poverty.
- The Indians’ announcement caught the attention of Twitter’s most prominent user: The New York Post dedicated reporting to President Trump’s reaction, in which he said it was “Cancel culture at work”.
© Dallas Gerber, 2020