polo swim suits to the chagrin of many Tribe fans
It was on the vast majority of the postseason merchandise the last two years, it was likely the logo you saw when you were implored to “rally together,” and it’s the image you can’t escape any time you go to the Indians’ website.
But when you watched your beloved Indians, there was a really good chance a REALLY good chance that they were sporting Chief Wahoo on their caps. And if you’re a Tribe diehard, you probably already know that the club wore Wahoo caps during its entire run all 15 playoff games to the World Series in 2016.
The Indians tried to stay firmly atop the fence the last few years.
They knew there was a strong, very vocal, part of their fan base that supported the logo. To many of them, it wasn’t a racist caricature of a Native American. It was an image they identified with their favorite team one that went back seven decades.
But there is also a growing number of people some Indians fans; many who are not who view Wahoo for what it is. Wahoo is a toothy, red faced caricature of a Native American that is, at worst, offensive, and, at best, a really bad representation of the most stable franchise in Cleveland.
Wahoo might have made sense in 1946.
Times and tastes change, though, and social media has a heck of a way of making us see things in different manners for good and bad.
At some point, the Indians had to make a decision.
Monday, Jan. 29, was that time. Beginning with the 2019 season, Chief Wahoo will no longer be part of the Indians’ uniforms.
The Indians couldn’t continue to push Wahoo aside, and then have him adorn their hats and uniform sleeves for every huge moment.
Once Major League Baseball awarded the 2019 All Star Game to Cleveland,
it was obvious a move would be made before next summer.
In an interview with Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer, Indians owner Paul Dolan admitted that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred “pushed” the club to “do something with Chief Wahoo” in a manner that was faster than the club had been planning. But Manfred never threatened to take Cleveland out of the All Star running, Dolan said.
Still, we find it hard to believe that MLB would be bringing its midseason showcase to Progressive Field without a pretty strong indication that the Indians would, in the words of the commissioner, “transition away” from Wahoo.
Again, this had been in the works for years.
In October 2013, a Tribe offseason survey asked fans to “rate the extent” to which they agreed or disagreed with five sentiments about the Chief Wahoo logo. The choices:
“This logo reflects the heritage of the Indians”
“I feel a strong positive emotional connection to this logo”
“This logo makes me proud of the Indians”
“This logo represents more than the team it represents the city of Cleveland”
“This logo is an important part of my support for the Indians”
As we wrote at the time, it was a small part of a survey in which fans were asked a plethora of questions, and the respondents were also asked to weigh in on the block C and the Indians’ script logo.
A few months later, the Indians made the block C their primary logo and continued to slowly, but surely, distance themselves from the Chief.
Eventually, though, they had to do more.
Removing the Chief from the hats and jerseys doesn’t erase the franchise’s history.
This isn’t a liberal PC culture running amok.
This is, quite simply, the right thing to do.
In applauding Monday’s announcement, the National Congress of American Indians said it “has advocated for the eradication of offensive Native American themed imagery from sports since 1968, and today’s announcement represents an important milestone for Indian Country in this effort.”
The NCAI’s president, Jefferson Keel, said such characterizations “reduce all Native people into a single outdated stereotype that harms the way Native people, especially youth,