Local Native American groups express excitement and optimism for Cleveland Guardians’ new moniker

CLEVELAND – Groups of American Indians have protested for years trying to get the Cleveland Indians to change the name of the team. Now, with the ad that the team will replace its name and logo as part of the Cleveland Guardians, local leaders of Native American organizations have expressed their enthusiasm and optimism.

“This is a new chapter for Cleveland moving forward,” said Jeff Pierce, spokesperson for the Ohio American Indian Movement. “I hope everyone can come to terms with the decision like we did and I hope we can all work together and support the team in the same way the fans have had for years.”

Pierce is also director of the Cleveland American Indian Education Center and executive director of People Not Mascots.

The team had taken steps over the past few years to try to curb disrespectful imagery, including phasing out Chief Wahoo and announcing that fans would no longer be allowed to wear headdresses or face paint in such a way. reference or to appropriate Amerindian cultures and traditions. .

The Lake Erie Native American Council told News 5 it was happy with the team’s name change. Now the group is calling on nearly 200 Ohio schools with native mascots to follow suit.

Opening day 2021, News 5 spoke to Sundance, executive director of the Cleveland American Indian Movement, which was part of the protests outside Progressive Field, even after the team announced it would eventually change its name.

“I’ll believe it when we see it,” he said at the time.

At the same location, News 5 asked him what the name change meant to him.

“I think this is the first step in healing a wound that has been festering in northeast Ohio for so long,” he said. “I plan to attend a game. I’m not going to say I’m going to see a game next season. It’s a fresh wound and we have to give the wound time to heal. Once this injury is healed, I will certainly attend a game.

This is the fifth name in the history of the team.

As for their opinion on the new name?

“I love the Guardians,” Sundance said.

“I think it’s really cool,” Pierce added. “What is more Cleveland than art deco architecture? I think it’s awesome.

“These are works of art out there,” said Robert Roche, director of the American Indian Movement of Ohio. “They are masterpieces and it is time for a new era.”

Although the name change takes effect at the end of this season, the work does not stop for these groups.

“We want legal control over the legal rights to the name,” Pierce added. “Don’t use it. We will never use it and make no profit from it. We want to make sure they don’t do it for commemorative merchandise.

A spokesperson for the team said they will still sell items bearing the name of Chief Wahoo and Indians for historical purposes, but the plan for the future is for those profits to go to programs, organizations and other Native American groups under-represented in the Cleveland area. An official list of these organizations has not been released.

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