Native Americans Protest Ahead Of Cleveland Indians Home Opener

Philip Yenyo, executive director of the American Indian movement in Ohio, seen in this file photo from April 6, 2018 at a protest of Chief Wahoo before the Cleveland home opener Kansas City Royals and the Cleveland Indians. [Tony Dejak / AP]
Philip Yenyo, executive director of the American Indian movement in Ohio, seen in this file photo from April 6, 2018 at a protest of Chief Wahoo before the Cleveland home opener Kansas City Royals and the Cleveland Indians. [Tony Dejak / AP]
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Back in 2018 the Cleveland Indians broke up with longtime mascot Chief Wahoo over concerns it was a racist caricature. Some Native Americans have long felt that the team’s name should change as well.

They’re protesting with that message Friday ahead of the long-delayed 2020 MLB season opener in Cleveland.

This time, however; the protest comes after several statements from Indians’ management suggesting there might be an opening for a name change. 

One of the groups organizing the protest is the American Indian Movement of Ohio. Executive Director Philip Yenyo said they used to chant “change the name, change the logo,” for but years it felt like the team’s owners only heard the second half of that message. 

But ahead of Opening Day, Indians owner Paul Dolan issued a statement addressing the demands for the team’s name to change. 

“I am invested in engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to help determine the best path forward with regard to our team name,” Dolan said in the statement. “In the coming weeks, we will engage Native American leaders to better understand their perspectives, meet with local civic leaders, and continue to listen to the perceptions of our players, fans, partners and employees. We feel a real sense of urgency to discuss these perspectives with key stakeholders while also taking the time needed to ensure those conversations are inclusive and meaningful.” 

The statement gave Yenyo hope. 

“We have been calling to be at the table for over 25 years now and it seems like everything is coming to fruition,” he told ideastream, though he’s getting a little impatient. “If you’re going to do the right thing then just do it. They’re delaying the inevitable.”

Earlier this month the NFL team formerly known as the Washington Redskins announced will retiring that name and logo. For the 2020 season, the team will be known as the Washington Football Team

Yenyo already has a suggestion for a new team name for the Indians, and it’s a rather nostalgic one: the Cleveland Spiders. That was team nickname in the late 1800s.

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