Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians. (via Flickr)

Amid growing national outcry from activists and sports fans alike who argue that it’s time to change racially charged team names and mascots, the Cleveland American Indian Movement (AIM) has spent decades pushing for the end of the “Cleveland Indians” baseball team name. Now, the movement has taken its efforts to the Internet, by creating an online petition urging one of the Cleveland baseball stadium’s sponsors, the Progressive Corp., to remove its name from the stadium until a change occurs. The petition states:

Progressive bills itself as beholden to a firm set of core values which includes the “Golden Rule”, as found on its website:

“Golden Rule: We respect all people, [Truthdig’s emphasis] value the differences among them and deal with them in the way we want to be dealt with. This requires us to know ourselves and to try to understand others.”

We firmly believe that attaching the Progressive name to institutionalized racism directly contradicts this proclaimed core value, and sends the insidious message that racism is somehow “progressive”.

Just last month, the Cleveland Indians announced that they would no longer be using “Chief Wahoo,” a red-colored caricature meant to depict a Native American chief, as their primary logo. However, reports Inquisitr, “Chief Wahoo will remain a secondary logo, and the team has no current plans to do away with it entirely.” Inquisitr also added:

According to a report from ESPN, the Indians have been in the process of slowly demoting Chief Wahoo to secondary status for years. The Chief Wahoo logo hasn’t been featured on Cleveland’s road caps since 2011 or home batting helmets for the Indians since 2013, although it has still been featured prominently elsewhere.

Despite the move to demote Chief Wahoo, Dolan also told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that there are currently “no plans to get rid of Chief Wahoo, it is part of our history and legacy.”

The Chief Wahoo logo depicts a cartoon caricature of a red-faced Indian. The logo, along with the name of the Cleveland Indians team, has drawn sharp criticism over the last several decades. Other sports teams, such as the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Braves, have drawn similar criticism.

This isn’t the first time that critics of the team name and mascot have put economic pressure on the Cleveland Indians. “In 1993 … a state legislator in Ohio sponsored a bill designed to block the use of public money for a new stadium for the Cleveland ‘Indians’ unless the club dropped its mascot, ‘Chief Wahoo,’ ” states the book “Contemporary Issues in Sociology of Sport.” Inqusitr notes that these efforts were unsuccessful, with the team retaining its name and mascot as it changed fields in 1994.

“Chief Wahoo” (via Flickr)

“We challenge The Progressive Corporation to sever their involvement with Cleveland Baseball, and to place respect for ‘all people’ above profit,” the Cleveland AIM states at the end of its petition.

Currently, 153 people have signed the petition. The Cleveland AIM is aiming for 100,000 signatures in support of the idea that “racism is regressive.”

The Cleveland American Indian Movement and its supporters will be protesting before the Cleveland Indians game this Sunday.

–Posted by Emma Niles


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