Ohio Native American Leader Confident Cleveland Name Change Will Inspire Other Teams

by Halle Ames

Cleveland announced they would be dropping “Indians” from their MLB team name. An Ohio Native American leader is confident it will inspire others.

Another professional team has joined the efforts to eradicate racist names from all sports teams, however, it is not close to being done.

The Cleveland Indians are the second team this year to start the process of changing their names, behind the Washington Redskins, now known as the Washington Football Team. “Indians” was a name chosen by the team and baseball writers in 1915.

However, Cleveland says that they will use the name and branding for the 2021 season until another name can be agreed upon. Two years ago, the team removed its “Chief Wahoo” mascot logo from branding and uniforms. Philip Yenyo, the executive director of the Cleveland-based American Indian Movement of Ohio said he is just happy with the team’s commitment.

“I understand that it’s going to take time, it’s part of the process,” Yenyo said. “And we have been patient.”

Cleveland Name Change is “Step In the Right Direction”

This is a step in the right direction, says Yenyo. After this switch, he is confident it will inspire other teams to also follow suit.

“This is a large step in the right direction,” Yenyo told CNN. “This fight isn’t over. This is just one team.”

Cleveland’s announcement on Monday comes after the team owner, Paul Dolan, began meeting with Native American groups and civic leaders over the summer. Yenyo was elated when asked to speak with Dolan. He said for the last 30 years, his protests have been ignored.

“I had prayed for a very long time for this day to come,” he also said.

Other teams that are under pressure to change their names are the Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Braves. In addition, the Chiefs have adjusted their traditions associated with the name, along with the Chicago Blackhawks. However, they have stood firm in defending their names and logos.