CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Indians have become the first major league sports franchise to change its “Chief Wahoo” cartoon logo and mascot in light of modern sensibilities about racism in sports. It was announced Monday that starting in 2019, the team would be changing its 70-year-old brand.
“Chief Wahoo” joined the team in 1948 and quickly became an immediate hit with fans. The cartoon itself has changed throughout the years, but none have been complimentary, to say the least.
Manfred said in a statement provided to The New York Times that the Indians organization “ultimately agreed with my position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball, and I appreciate Mr. Dolan’s acknowledgment that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course.”
Insiders say commissioner of baseball, Rob Manfred, pressured Paul Dolan, Cleveland’s chairman and chief executive, to abandon the growing controversy.
Some North American Indian leaders regard the move to loose Chief Wahoo from the team uniforms and promotions, a step forward he sees it a job only half done.
“All they are doing is testing it out,” said Phillip Yenyo, the executive director of the American Indian Movement of Ohio because. “The name has to go, too. The nickname absolutely has to go. It’s not just the logo.”
Dolan acknowledged the changing times and modern sensibilities.
“We have consistently maintained that we are cognizant and sensitive to both sides of the discussion,” Dolan said in a statement issued by M.L.B. “While we recognize many of our fans have a longstanding attachment to Chief Wahoo, I’m ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019.”
But the small step is even smaller than initially thought. Chief Wahoo will not far away at Cleveland Indians games. The team has retained the rights to the logo and intend to merchandise it, as usual.
The NFL Washington Redskins have been under similar pressure to abandon the name “Redskins” a derogatory 19th century slang for North America’s Onkwehonwe Nations.
To date, they have not caved in under the pressure and still defiantly refuse any thought of changing it.