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Cleveland Indians Are Phasing Out Chief Wahoo Logo

Chief Wahoo logo

After years of controversy, the Cleveland Indians are phasing out Chief Wahoo. The team and Major League Baseball have announced the logo will be removed rom team uniforms after this season.

The change follows a longstanding debate about whether Chief Wahoo is appropriate for a team symbol.

WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto says Major League Baseball and Indians owner Paul Dolan agreed to nix the logo of a grinning caricature of a Native American man that many find offensive. But the change isn't a ban

The team name ‘Indians’ is going to remain the same. They’re not going to have the Chief Wahoo police, so anybody can wear anything they want when coming to the park. In fact they might even be selling some of those items with the logos on it.

Pluto says even though the team is getting rid of the logo, it will still hold the rights to the image. 

Political climate

I think it was pretty clear The Indians were going to lose this one way or another. And so I think what they wanted to do was to protect the fans who want to wear their stuff but comply with the political environment as it is today.

Theresa Walton-Fisette is a professor of sports administration at Kent State University and president of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport. She says the announcement is a long time coming, adding the logo has a caused a lot of harm.

Walton-Fisette says Chief Wahoo is harmful

"It causes harm to Native American people, but it also causes harm to those of us who become immune to those forms of racism. We see it everywhere we are; we see people wearing it, we see it on signs, we see it being used to sell products, and we become immune to it. And that makes us a little less human, I think."

The logo will still appear on player’s sleeves in 2018, but will be replaced the following season by a patch signifying the MLB All-Star Game coming to Cleveland next year. 

Mark Arehart joined the award-winning WKSU news team as its arts/culture reporter in 2017. Before coming to Northeast Ohio, Arehart hosted Morning Edition and covered the arts scene for Delaware Public Media. He previously worked for KNKX in Seattle, Kansas Public Radio, and KYUK in Bethel, Alaska.