There were rumors this fall that the Cleveland Indians would finally be dumping their racist mascot/logo, Chief Wahoo, due to pressure from fans and even the baseball commissioner. Those rumors were shot down recently by AP reporter Tom Withers, who says the Wahoo logo lives on.
There was, however a tiny glimmer of good news for people who object to the racist imagery: It will apparently be displayed less prominently on some sets of Cleveland uniforms, and on the caps that go with those uniforms.
During the last days of the World Series in October, which the Indians lost to the Chicago Cubs, it was reported that the national spotlight on the Indians and their logo spurred Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred to suggest he planned to meet with team owner Paul Dolan to discuss the matter. This created some hope that the logo would finally be banished.
Cleveland Scene Magazine even held a contest for fans to submit new logo and jersey designs to “help out Manfred and the Dolans” and “facilitate a smooth transition.” While the publication never promised that the winning submission would actually end up on players’ uniforms, the announcement seemed to indicate shifting perspectives in Cleveland. As they say in baseball, maybe next year.
Many Cleveland fans justify the Chief Wahoo logo by saying it honors Native Americans, pointing specifically to legendary player Louis Sockalexis. Sockalexis, Penobscot, one of the first Native American’s to play in the major leagues, spent three seasons (1897-1899) with the Cleveland Spiders. Some claim, with no historical evidence, that the “Indians” name and mascot were a nod to him.
The reality is, the Sockalexis legend has been thoroughly debunked, as Indian Country Media Network has repeatedly reported. Also, sadly, the logo was racist from the start, and was often the object of racial derision from sportswriters and fans throughout its history.
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