Na­tive Amer­i­cans: Bench­ing Wa­hoo step in right di­rec­tion

Ripon Bulletin - - Sports -

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.

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