Cleveland Indians Will Abandon “Chief Wahoo” Imagery Next Year


Cleveland Indians Will Abandon “Chief Wahoo” Imagery Next Year

The Cleveland Indians have announced that they plan to stop using the “Chief Wahoo” logo next season. Earlier this week, Cleveland’s chairman Paul Dolan told reporters:

“We have consistently maintained that we are cognizant and sensitive to both sides of the discussion. 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.”
The mascot has been the focus of debate for quite some time now. Detractors say that the image is racist, while supporters basically just argue that they like it.
Of course, for many activists, the gesture is too little too late.
Phillip Yenyo, the executive director of the American Indian Movement of Ohio, cheered the decision as, “another step in the right direction,” but lamented that it is being put off for a year.
“Why wait?” he said. “If you are going to go this far and get rid of it, why not do it now? All they are doing is testing it out, because the name has to go, too. The nickname absolutely has to go. It’s not just the logo.”
Interestingly enough, Cleveland’s logo wasn’t always quite as racist. When the team was formed, their logo was actually a large “C”. Then, from 1928-1945, they had a logo looked similar to that of the Chicago Blackhawks. It was 1946 when they first adopted the cartoonish image with the hooked-nose and the giant smile; then they gave it beet-red skin in 1951. That design became the “Chief Wahoo” that’s still in use today.
It’s also worth noting that Cleveland is not alone in this. At one point in time, The Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves , the College of William & Mary, The University of Illinois, The University of Louisiana, The University of Tennessee, Marquette and Syracuse, all had Native American mascots. However, these other organizations moved on much sooner than Dolan.
Still, it’s a start. Now we just need to get Washington to rename their football team…
You can read a brief history of the “Chief Wahoo” character in our piece from July of 2015.