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Cleveland's Baseball Team Goes From 'Indians' to 'Guardians'

Officials with Cleveland's baseball team says the new name, 'Guardians,' represents the 'pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders.'
Major League Baseball
Officials with Cleveland's baseball team says the new name, 'Guardians,' represents the 'pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders.'

Cleveland's Major League Baseball team will have a new name after this season: The Cleveland Guardians.

The name change process started in June, 2020, with a statement acknowledging the importance of taking a leadership role in uniting the Northeast Ohio community. Team officials say they conducted an extensive multi-phase process to learn how the team name "Indians" -- in-place since 1915 -- impacted different constituencies and "intersected with our organizational values." A public statement came in December. A month later – based on trademark filings -- WKSU analyzed some of the proposed team names including “Spiders,” an homage to the name of a local ballclub in the 1800’s.

The decision comes after going through about 1,200 potential names and 100+ hours of brainstorming sessions.

Team Owner and Chairman Paul Dolan says, "Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity. Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders. ‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us while drawing on the iconic Guardians of Traffic just outside the ballpark on the Hope Memorial Bridge. It brings to life the pride Clevelanders take in our city and the way we fight together for all who choose to be part of the Cleveland baseball family. While ‘Indians’ will always be a part of our history, our new name will help unify our fans and city as we are all Cleveland Guardians."

The team had already decided, in 2018, to remove the "Chief Wahoo" logo from merchandise. A new logo (above) will retain the current color scheme. The club's previous names were the Blues (1901), Bronchos (1902) and Naps (1903-1914).

The Cleveland Indigenous Coalition, which consists of four Northeast Ohio Native American organizations -- the American Indian Movement of Ohio, the Committee of 500 Years of Dignity & Resistance, the Lake Erie Native American Council, and the Lake Erie Professional Chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society -- released the following statement:

"This momentous occasion is the culmination of over 60 years of grassroots advocacy and activism by Indigenous leadership. Today, we stand with our heads held high and full of gratitude to those who came before us in this fight. Our community has worked tirelessly to be recognized as diverse and vibrant, instead of being portrayed in inaccurate and harmful ways. This name change will help create a place where Native American children and their families are valued and fully seen. We are pleased the Cleveland baseball team took a comprehensive approach to listen and learn and show it is possible to take steps toward change. We now call on the nearly 200 schools in Ohio with Native mascots to follow suit."

Actor Tom Hanks -- a long-time Cleveland baseball fan -- and The Black Keys helped unveil the new name on social media today:

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.