Report: Cleveland Indians 'Prepared to Consider' Nickname Change More Seriously

Blake SchusterAnalyst IJuly 4, 2020

MILWAUKEE, WI - MAY 09:  A detail view of a Cleveland Indians hat in the dugout during the game Milwaukee Brewers at the Miller Park on May 9, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Cleveland Indians are ready to consider changing the franchise's nickname after 105 years.

According to Ken Rosenthal and Zack Meisel of The Athletic, the pressure levied on the Washington NFL team to change its name has led the MLB club to reconsider its own nickname.

The team released a statement Friday:

"We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality. Our organization fully recognizes our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community.

"We have had ongoing discussions organizationally on these issues. The recent social unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice.

"With that in mind, we are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.

"While the focus of the baseball world shifts to the excitement of an unprecedented 2020 season, we recognize our unique place in the community and are committed to listening, learning, and acting in the manner that can best unite and inspire our city and all those who support our team."

According to Rosenthal and Meisel, "the statement is a clear indication the Indians are prepared to consider changing the team name more seriously than they have before, according to a source familiar with the club's thinking."

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Cleveland had long been criticized for its damaging, stereotypical imagery of Indigenous people, and in 2018, MLB and the team agreed to stop using the "Chief Wahoo" mascot by the 2019 season.

"While we recognize many of our fans have a long-standing attachment to Chief Wahoo, I'm ultimately in agreement with Commissioner [Rob] Manfred's desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019," owner Paul Dolan said at the time.

Cleveland adopted the block "C" as its primary logo before the 2014 season.

The National Congress of American Indians applauded the move after years of complaints.

"These mascots reduce all Native people into a single outdated stereotype that harms the way Native people, especially youth, view themselves," NCAI President Jefferson Keel said in a 2018 statement. "Today's news is a big step in the right direction, but much work remains, and NCAI will press on with this struggle until every single one of these harmful mascots is gone from the sports landscape."

The franchise had used many nicknames before settling on Indians in 1915.

Previously the club was known as the Naps, Bronchos and Blues in addition to the Spiders and Forest Citys, according to Rosenthal and Meisel. Cleveland "plans to consult with the Native American community, fans, players, alumni and internal staff before making a decision" on changing the nickname, they wrote.