Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Akron chapter.

The Redskins. The Braves. The Blackhawks. The Indians.

For a country that treated Native Americans so horribly, we sure do love naming our sports teams after them. For years, controversy has surrounded these teams and others like them whose names, logos and mascots are related to Native Americans. While it is certainly undeniable that having a football team named after a racial slur, or a hockey team with a logo of a Native American in a headdress is racist, there is something unexcusable about the Cleveland Indians’ racist caricature, Chief Wahoo. With his red skin, long nose, giant smile, and single feather, his symbol is one you expect to see in 1918, not 2018. However, 2018 will be Chief Wahoo’s last year; the MLB has issued a statement that Chief Wahoo will no longer be used on team uniforms, used on merchandise sold by MLB.com or appear in Progressive Field in 2019.

My social work diversity class last semester discussed the racism behind Chief Wahoo, and I recall fellow students, all open-minded people who strongly rejected racism in all of its forms, wearing the Chief Wahoo logo. As an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Blackhawks, and having grown up in the Cleveland area, the Chief Wahoo logo, the Blackhawk logo and the Braves’ tomahawk were all parts of my childhood. Chief Wahoo’s happy smiling face was everywhere in my rural hometown, 45 minutes from Cleveland.

Before I even really understood baseball I could recognize the Indians’ insignia from t-shirts, yard signs and baseball caps. Seeing the Atlanta Braves brings me back to my childhood and watching TV for hours in the hot summer cheering on Andruw and Chipper Jones. However, this isn’t about me. It’s about the Native Americans who lived where these multi-million dollar franchises built their stadiums and were killed in mass genocide, and its about the Native Americans who still exist today and are treated like they are relics of the past.

There has already been backlash against this decision with fans using the hashtag #KeeptheChief. While this iconic figure is in basically every sports bar and old restaurant in a 50 mile radius of Cleveland and has been part of Cleveland history since his commission in 1947, and before that as the “Little Indian” in 1932, Chief Wahoo should remain in the past, especially when his most avid supporters deem this appropriate:

The commissioner of baseball Rob Manfred said “the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball” and I agree wholeheartedly.

Emily Janikowski, otherwise known as Em, can be found usually lurking in the depths of the Polsky building as a writing tutor, and when she isn't there, she is curled up in bed binge watching Law & Order SVU. Her passion lies in changing the world, and she hopes to accomplish this through majoring in social work.