Sports Teams Rename to Avoid Native American Stereotypes

These statues, the Guardians of Traffic, are the inspiration for the new name of Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team.

Have you watched any baseball this season? If you have, you might have noticed a new team name. The Cleveland Guardians is the new name for the baseball team in Cleveland, Ohio. They used to be named the Cleveland Indians. They changed their name because Native Americans protested that the name “Indians” was disrespectful.

Native Americans have protested the Cleveland Indians name since the late 1960s. They also protested the mascot, Chief Wahoo. Chief Wahoo was a cartoon of a Native American. Many Native Americans felt the name and mascot showed stereotypes [an unfair and negative way to look at a group of people] about their people. They protested outside the baseball field on the first game of every season. Sometimes, Native American protestors would be called names. Sometimes, they would be attacked.

In 2019, the Cleveland Indians stopped using Chief Wahoo as their mascot. In 2020, they announced they would change their name. The Guardians of Traffic are statues on the Hope Memorial Bridge near the baseball stadium. Built in 1931, they are 43 feet tall, with two on each of the four posts of the bridge. The baseball team decided to name themselves the Cleveland Guardians after these statues. The Cleveland Guardians’ owner hopes the new name will unify the team’s fans and the city of Cleveland.

Several other sports teams have changed their names to stop disrespecting Native Americans. Next season, in the National Football League, the Washington Commanders will be the new name for the team that used to be called the Washington Redskins. Another team, the Kansas City Chiefs, has not changed their name. They have stopped using a stereotypical mascot, however. Some other sports teams’ names, such as the Atlanta Braves, are still questioned by some groups.

What Do You Think? How do you think it feels to a group of people if a sports team’s name is not respectful to them?

Photo Credit: Vuelo Aerial Media/Shutterstock