One by one professional sports mascots that reference Native Americans are falling by the wayside.
First it was the Washington Football Team who dropped the Redskins moniker last year, feeling a pressure so great they did so before choosing a new name. Now it’s the Cleveland Indians who are making a change, announcing on Friday that after the 2021 season they will be renamed the Cleveland Guardians.
The team made the announcement in a video narrated by Tom Hanks.
Together, we are all… pic.twitter.com/R5FnT4kv1I
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 23, 2021
“We are excited to usher in the next era of the deep history of baseball in Cleveland,” team owner Paul Dolan said in a statement. “Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity. Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders.
“‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us while drawing on the iconic Guardians of Traffic just outside the ballpark on the Hope Memorial Bridge. It brings to life the pride Clevelanders take in our city and the way we fight together for all who choose to be part of the Cleveland baseball family. While ‘Indians’ will always be a part of our history, our new name will help unify our fans and city as we are all Cleveland Guardians.”
Cleveland stopped wearing the Chief Wahoo logo on their hats and uniforms during games starting in 2018, but now will drop the name they’ve had since 1915 entirely.
“It is a major step toward righting the wrongs committed against Native peoples and is one step toward justice,” said Crystal Echo Hawk, executive director and founder of IllumiNative, a group dedicated to fighting misrepresentations of Native Americans.
Dolan said that last summer’s social unrest that sprung about following the murder of George Floyd was a partial catalyst for the name change.