What We Know:
- The Ohio-based baseball team has had the name “Indians” since 1915. In 1947, they adapted the “Chief Wahoo” logo, which is an offensive caricature of a Native American character. Many Native Americans found the name and logo extremely offensive to their culture. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first-ever Native American Cabinet Secretary, stated that “the long practice of using Native American mascots and imagery in sports teams has been harmful to Indigenous communities.”
- The former Indians decided to change their name last year when the Black Lives Matter movement took off again after the murder of George Floyd. Team owner Paul Dolan said the death of Floyd was an awakening to push for the name change. Manager and former Cleveland baseball player Terry Francona, stated that the team is doing its best to be respectful, as they realized it’s not about them but about other people.
“You have to step outside your own skin and think about other people that may have different color skin and what they’re thinking. And we tried to be really respectful and I’m really proud of our organization,” said Francona.
- On Friday, the organization released its official name change to “Guardians” via their Twitter account. They posted a 2-minute video, narrated by Emmy and Oscar winner Tom Hanks, that described “Cleveland” being the best part of the team’s name. The video also showcased the Guardians’ new logo, a baseball flanked with winged letter Gs. This name change will be the team’s fifth name change.
Together, we are all… pic.twitter.com/R5FnT4kv1I
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 23, 2021
- The choice of Guardians stems from the architectural history of the city. The team decided to pay homage to the Guardians of Traffic statues, located on the Hope Memorial Bridge. Dolan stated that the organization wanted to choose a name that “strongly reflected the pride, resiliency, and loyalty of Clevelanders.” After surveying over 40,000 fans, holding 140 interviews with community leaders and staff, and coming up with over 1,190 possible names, the name Guardians seemed like the perfect fit.
- The MLB team joins other sporting teams in an attempt to correct the wrongs of having offensive names and logos. In July 2020, the former Washington Redskins were pressured to change their name by dropping the “Redskins” part. They decided on the name “Washington Football Team” as they continue to work through various name options. Other social activists are hoping that other professional sporting teams, such as the Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs, and Chicago Blackhawks, will follow the example set by Cleveland.
Despite a name and logo change, the baseball team will continue to use the colors of red, navy blue, and white in their uniforms and fan gear. Dolan knows that some fans will hate the name change, but he believes they are moving in the right direction. The name change will go into effect in 2022.