Native Americans: Benching Wahoo step in right direction
Cleveland native Josh Hunt is not a fan of baseball. But he’s showed up at Progressive Field where the Indians play for the past couple of years to protest the team name and its mascot, Chief Wahoo — confronted with fans in headdresses and face paint, some playing small drums.
“Being Native American myself, it’s a reminder that our city and our society doesn’t see me as a human being,” he said. “It would prefer to portray me as a racist stereotype, a bloodthirsty savage.”
The protests have been happening since at least the 1970s, and this week marked what American Indians say is a small but meaningful change in professional sports. The players won’t don Chief Wahoo on their uniforms starting in the 2019 season, when Cleveland will host the All-Star Game, though the red-faced cartoon with a big-toothed grin and feather headband won’t disappear from merchandise.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and team owner Paul Dolan said the change was about diversity and inclusion. Manfred met with the National Congress of American Indians last April, after the club had reduced Wahoo’s visibility and introduced a block “C’’ as the club’s primary insignia.