CLEVELAND – Cleveland Indians fans may be protesting the forecast for Opening Day, but whatever the weather brings Monday, one local group will be protesting outside of Progressive Field. They continue to push the team to drop Chief Wahoo and change the team’s name, which they consider to be racist.
Opening Day is a day Tribe fans look forward to all spring.
But for many people, especially some Native Americans, the home opener is not a time to celebrate.
“We’re nobody’s mascot,” said Philip Yenyo, executive director of the American Indian Movement of Ohio.
Several Native American organizations are holding a conference at Baldwin Wallace University this weekend to denounce the Indians name and its longtime mascot, Chief Wahoo. Like in past years, they plan to demonstrate in front of Progressive Field on Monday.
“These things that are put out there, these stereotypes of human beings are wrong, and no matter what nationality you are…and it’s time for us to finally stand up and continue this fight and say it’s wrong. We need to change this as a society,” Yenyo said.
In 2014, the Indians officially made the block letter “C” its primary team logo, although Chief Wahoo does still appear on “home” ball caps and on the sleeves of the team’s home jerseys. Most fans we spoke to say Chief Wahoo should stay.
“I feel the C is too generic, it could be Cleveland, it could be Chicago, it could be Columbus. I like Chief Wahoo, that’s what I grew up on,” said one fan.
“I’m on both sides because some people feel that it is offensive, but again, it’s been our logo for years,” said another.
“I don’t think it’s offensive, I know it’s been around Cleveland for a long time,” said another Indians fan.
The Indians released a statement which reads:
“We are very cognizant and sensitive to both sides of the conversation…our fans’ deep, long lasting attachment to the memories associated with Chief Wahoo and those who are opposed to its use. We continue to research our fan base to better understand their perception and stance on the logo, but at present time have no plans of making a change. We will continue to have the Wahoo logo represented on our uniforms and home cap during the 2016 season.”
“It’s not gonna be enough until it’s completely gone and the name of the team is changed,” said Yenyo.