Patel: Change the name

Why we should change the name of Cleveland’s baseball team


Despite the progress we have made as a country in terms of race relations, we still have sports teams named after racial groups, such as Cleveland’s baseball team, the Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians’ got their name from Louis Sockalexis, the first Native American to play Major League Baseball for the Cleveland Spiders. Their merchandise showcases a racially offensive logo—Chief Wahoo. The formation of the mascot has been changed several times, but it still represents something very negative to people who identify as Native Americans.

Some people in favor of keeping the logo and name believe that they are honoring the indigenous people.

However, for someone who actually identifies as an indigenous person, seeing a red-faced man with a feather in his hair with a cartoon-like grin is not honorable.

There are no people on the Cleveland Indians’ team that identify as Native American. These players do not have to deal with the same racist comments or actions that actual Native Americans are accustomed to. While playing in the World Series is a spectacular feat, it is necessary to recognize that the name Indians perpetuates the continued oppression and abuse of indigenous people. In order to fix this issue, we need to change the team’s name and get rid of Chief Wahoo.

Seeing a racial caricature as an image of one’s deceased ancestors could be offensive. Hundreds of thousands of indigenous people in the United States died from disease the European colonists brought to America. The survivors were pushed off their land and onto reservations. They were given little with regard to educational resources, as well as miserable living conditions.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Native American boarding schools were set up all across the United States in order to assimilate the younger native populations to prevent rebellions. In these schools, Native American children were stripped of their names, language and culture. They were taken away from their families and brought to these institutions. As soon as they entered, their hair was cut. For these indigenous people, long hair signified strength and power, and these schools took that away from them.

They had a saying at the boarding schools, “Kill the Indian and save the man.” If you spoke in your native tongue you were verbally abused, beaten and ostracized from your classmates. These schools did not last long, but the damage has already been done to the people who attended them.

We should not continue to further the racial oppression that Native Americans have faced ever since Christopher Columbus “discovered” the New World. Changing the name is a big step, but it may never happen.

On a more positive note, Cleveland’s baseball team has begun to reduce the use of the racial caricature. Earlier this year, the Indians decided to officially re-designate their block “C” logo as their primary team logo and demote Chief Wahoo to secondary status.

A permanent change should be made to completely abandon Chief Wahoo. The logo is an offensive representation of Native Americans, and should not be tolerated. People defend Wahoo’s bright red glow because the colors of the Indians are red and blue. But where is the blue coloring?

It doesn’t exist.

It is important to have pride in your city, and supporting local sports teams is a great way to do this. However, as students, we need to realize the damage the name Cleveland Indians has on a group of people who have experienced injustice on their own land for centuries.

There is no compromise: Just completely remove the logo.