Native American Group Targets Cleveland Indians Mascot Chief Wahoo
Source: The Associated Press
Photo: Tony Dejak/Associated Press
According to CBS Cleveland…
Robert Roche, a Chiricahua Apache and director of the American Indian Education Center, is planning to file a federal lawsuit in late July against the Cleveland Indians organization. Roche, who is also the leader of the group People Not Mascots, says the lawsuit will challenge that the team’s name and Chief Wahoo logo are racist.
“We’re going to be asking for $9 billion and we’re basing it on a hundred years of disparity, racism, exploitation and profiteering,” Roche told WEWS-TV. “It’s been offensive since day one. We are not mascots. My children are not mascots. We are people.”
BleacherReport implies that the offensive nature of the mascot is contested, using “scare quotes.”
According to a report from CBS Cleveland, a Native American group will file a federal lawsuit against Cleveland’s Major League Baseball franchise for the use of its “offensive” Chief Wahoo logo:
RantSports concedes that the time has come for a change…
So at this point the writing is on the wall for teams using Native American slurs, nicknames and/or logos. The time will come when franchises like the Indians and Redskins are forced to change their names. As more groups of people speak out against them, and people in general, the days of Indian-themed sports franchises will tick away.
Whether you think the nicknames are offensive, is really beside the point. The point is that there are plenty of nicknames out there that don’t offend anybody. There’s really no reason for teams like Washington and Cleveland to not consider an alternative moniker.
Although the lawsuit is new, criticisms of Wahoo are anything but!
Here’s just a sampling of examples in the mascot’s recent history.
CoolCleveland.com recounts a 1996 protest against Wahoo…
In 1996, I covered the Native American protest of Chief Wahoo on Opening Day at Jacobs Field. Initiated two years prior by the American Indian Movement (AIM), I was — and still am — completely mystified as to why the owners of the baseball franchise just don’t simply bite the bullet, take the short-term lost revenues from sales of trinkets, and do the right thing by sending the racist caricature packing.
The next year I came up with the “Sambo” sign and tried to get someone Black to carry it during that year’s demonstration on Opening Day. When I failed in that attempt, I took off my journalist’s hat and put on my activist’s one — and carried the sign myself. Just as I’m mystified as to why the club’s owners don’t do the right thing, I’m even more mystified as to why Blacks (and others) don’t stand up with their Native American brothers on this issue.
People have been offended by Wahoo since at least 1992.
Chief Wahoo People Not Mascots Logo designed by David Jakupca 1992.