This one came in a couple weeks ago in response to the Scene cover story on The Curse of Chief Wahoo:
I’m really struggling with this. Please help. I’ve been a Cleveland Indians fan for all of my life. I like this baseball team that Cleveland has.
After reading your article on Chief Wahoo, I’m not sure that I feel right supporting this team.
I know that those boys out there on the field don’t have much of a say in it, but I feel like I shouldn’t even go see the play with the organization condoning such a racist attitude.
I’ve removed the Wahoos from my home. I’m ashamed to say that I had let something like that into my home.
I was foolish enough to think that it wasn’t that bad or that maybe they had gotten the ok from some local tribe to use such a name and image.
If supporting the “Indians” is part of the problem, please let me know how I can be part of the solution. I would like to stand with anyone who is protesting at a game in the future.*
And here’s another letter that was sent to the folks at Uni Watch in response to their recent “re-name the Indians” series** that was passed along to us.
Dear [Uni Watch Folks],
Born and raised in Cleveland, I stopped rooting for the Cleveland baseball team around 15 years ago due to the offensiveness of the name and Chief Wahoo. I’ve since been waiting for the day the team would change its identity so that I could once again be a fan of my hometown team.
I enjoyed seeing the clever nominees in the Uni-Watch contest but, as great as these choices are, there is probably no chance of the Cleveland baseball organization adopting any of these names or anything along similar lines in the near future. When I returned to Cleveland for a job from 2008-2011, I was struck by how many individuals who have devoted their lives to issues of social justice either see nothing wrong with, or turn a blind eye to, the name of the baseball team. Only the strongest owner, which the team does not have, would be able to stomach the initial public outcry and resistance that would come from changing the team’s name or Chief Wahoo. That is, unless the name change can be seen as a possible improvement, even by those clinging to the Indians and Chief Wahoo, in all his red-faced grinning glory.
But I may have come up with a solution. Change the team name to the Cleveland Americans. Is it boring and jingoist? Yes. But when it comes to ending this injustice, I think practicality significantly trumps creativity. The beauty of the Americans name is that it backs into a corner those most likely to object to changing Indians/Chief Wahoo. Are they going to choose patriotism or tradition/racism? Do they love America more than they hate political correctness? And, hell, if Chief Wahoo is so iconic and his tradition so important, keep him as the mascot of the Americans. Wouldn’t that be something? An “Indian” as the symbol of a team simply named the Americans.
In other news, here’s a report from 2009 at the Philly Inquirer on how leaders of the Penobscot Nation of which Louis Sockalexis was a member have repeatedly asked the Cleveland Indians to stop using Chief Wahoo as a logo. Indians spokesman Bob Dibiasio had no comment in response to the Penobscot leaders’ request, presumably because if these people could only understand “the historical significance as to how and why the Cleveland baseball team became the Indians,” they would see how Wahoo “acknowledge[s] and foster[s] the legacy of Sockalexis.”
Cleveland: You can stand for basic decency, social justice and human dignity here, or you can root for your local Major League baseball team, but you really can’t do both. To think of what being a Cleveland fan could be if it wasn’t for Larry Dolan and the rest of the Wahoo enablers of Cleveland’s power structure (which of course includes every one of the franchise’s corporate sponsors).
Alright, Tribe fever catch it. *If you want to stand with anti-Wahoo protesters like A.C. from Cleveland, get in touch with the folks at the Committee of 500 Years of Dignity and Resistance here. If you want to buy Cleveland Caucasians gear, get in touch with the folks at Shelf Life Clothing here.
**And we never got around to posting about the rest of the Uni Watch re-name/re-design results, so if you missed those, you’ll definitely want to check them out here, here, here, and here (and a good read from Uni Watch founder Paul Lukas on his position on Native American team names/imagery here).