Cleveland's Major League Baseball franchise has decided to change its team name, moving away from the Indians moniker it has employed for more than 100 years and that is considered insensitive to indigenous peoples. Team owner Paul Dolan confirmed the news Monday, which was originally reported by David Waldstein and Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times on Sunday night.
"We'll be the Indians in 2021 and then after that, it's a difficult and complex process to identify a new name and do all the things you do around activating that name," Dolan told the Associated Press. "We are going to work at as quick a pace as we can while doing it right. But we're not going to do something just for the sake of doing it. We're going to take the time we need to do it right."
Dolan added: "It was a learning process for me and I think when fair-minded, open-minded people really look at it, think about it and maybe even spend some time studying it, I like to think they would come to the same conclusion: It's a name that had its time, but this is not the time now, and certainly going forward, the name is no longer acceptable in our world."
Here's the statement from the team:
The National Congress of American Indians released the following statement Monday:
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) commends today’s announcement by the Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise in Cleveland to retire its “Indians” name and mascot. Read our statement: https://t.co/Do1lcYbDd4 pic.twitter.com/KHxcIp610U— National Congress of American Indians (@NCAI1944) December 14, 2020
The club is planning to use the Indians name and uniforms for the 2021 MLB season before changing names. Another option would have been going the route of the National Football League's Washington franchise, which dropped its own offensive nickname in July. The club has since been known as the Washington Football Team.
"We don't want to be the Cleveland Baseball Team or some other interim name," Dolan said. "We will continue to be the Indians until we have identified the next name that will hopefully take us through multiple centuries."
Cleveland's decision comes more than two years after it started to distance itself from the "Chief Wahoo" logo. Back in July, when the Washington Football Team announced its altered identity, Cleveland announced it would investigate the "best path forward" with regards to the team name. Subsequently, our Dayn Perry offered several replacement options, including the ever-popular "Spiders," as well as the "Rockers," the "Crows," and "Dobys," named after Hall of Famer Larry Doby, who was the American League's first Black player.
"We are not going to take a half-step away from the Indians," Dolan said. "The new name, and I do not know what it is, will not be a name that has Native American themes or connotations to it. Frankly, (Tribe) would have been a name that I would have loved to pivot to. But in talking to these groups, they made it very clear that the issues that are attached to the Indians don't go away with Tribe, particularly since Tribe has been tied to the experience of our team for many many decades."
Cleveland's franchise has had three other identities during its existence: the Naps (after Nap Lajoie), the Bronchos, and the Blues. Of those, the Naps is the only name that lasted beyond a single season.
"There is definitely some pain in this, Dolan said. "It's the end of an era or the beginning of an era. But accompanying that is the recognition and maybe even excitement that we're going on to do something that is better. It will be better for the community. It will be better for our team. And it will be something hopefully that unites everybody. It's not anything that we have to feel any kind of reluctance about expressing. It's going to take some time for everybody to embrace but I think when they do, we'll all be better off for it."
Though Cleveland is progressing toward a name change, there's no indication that the Atlanta Braves will follow suit. The Braves have faced increased scrutiny in recent years for their promotion of the "Tomahawk Chop" gesture. The Braves were said to be contemplating their support of their gesture over the summer.