Pitcher Adam Cimber, in a game with the Cleveland Indians in September 2019 against the New York Yankees.JASON MILLER / AFP
After 105 years, the
, a club in the United States Major League Baseball (MLB), have decided to change their name.
The two-time World Series-winning franchise announced last week that it will remove the name Indians after decades of protest by Native American groups, who consider it degrading and racist.
"By hearing firsthand the stories and experiences of the natives, we deeply understood how tribal communities feel about the team's name and the detrimental effects on them," explained the entity's owner, Paul Dolan, in a statement.
Statement from the organization.https: //t.co/IHa68yEQGA pic.twitter.com/gGS6xutSOy
- Cleveland Indians (@Indians) December 14, 2020
The decision of the Cleveland team comes after the change of name in July by the Washington Redskins (one of the most famous franchises in the American Football League) and amid social pressure against racism in the United States , with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of police last May in Minneapolis.
The team from the nation's capital, currently known as the Washington Football Team, announced on July 13 that it would drop its last name, even under pressure from its own sponsors, including FedEx, Pepsi and Nike.
That same day, Cleveland reported that it was beginning a review of its brand.
Until the decision was made, the franchise held dozens of meetings for months with fans, Native American groups, historians, and religious and civil leaders.
Stephanie Fryberg was one of the investigators who advised the Cleveland.
Professor of Psychology, Diversity and Social Transformation at the University of Michigan and a member of the Tulalip tribes of Washington State, explained to Paul Dolan and the rest of the directors the harmful effects that the use of names and sports mascots that caricature natives have in indigenous peoples, according to
The New York Times
Another of the institutions with which the franchise met was the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), an organization that is responsible for ensuring the rights of indigenous people.
"It is a monumental step in the decades-long effort to educate on what respect for tribal nations, cultures and communities entails, and how sports mascots such as Indians prevent our fellow citizens from understanding and valuing who the natives are," said the NCAI President Fawn Sharp.
He added: "The process used by the franchise should serve as a model for other teams and schools across the country as this movement for racial struggle, justice and inclusion continues to grow."
The Cleveland franchise had already taken a step in this direction last year, when it decided to eliminate a logo called Chief Wahoo, a considered racist cartoon of an American Indian with a red face and a pen attached to his head.
The team spent part of 2019 gradually erasing the logo from the stadium walls, banners and team jerseys, replacing the parody with a letter C. “When a franchise is aligned with its community, it is able to unite people of different origins in support of their home team, "defended Dolan, who also explained that the Cleveland have not yet chosen their new name and that they will keep the Indians last name until then.
The still President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not like the name change: “What's going on?
This is not good news, even for 'Indians'.
Cancellation culture! ”, The president tweeted.
What is going on?
This is not good news, even for “Indians”.
Cancel culture at work!
- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 14, 2020
Suzan Shown Harjo, an activist for the rights of indigenous peoples, is one of the people who in 1970 managed to get the University of Oklahoma to remove forever Little Red, a mascot that parodied a native.
It was his first victory, half a century ago.
“Trump, like many who suffer from the disease of white supremacy, has formed his opinion about the rights of native peoples from his position of white privilege, and because of his bad education, lack of knowledge and curiosity he is unable to understand that in the world of sports, advertising and entertainment represent us with stereotypes: pet, wild and inhuman, and as stupid, lazy, drunk, dishonest, surly, humorless, ugly.
All to help sell tickets and products ”, Shown Harjo explains to EL PAÍS.
The activist believes that the club's decision ends a century of racism, intolerance and physical and emotional violence: “Especially with our youth.
The term 'Indians' generates racism.
He does this with false images, pets, and behaviors, such as reddening faces, using axes, or acting drunk.
Using human beings in this way, for fun, is dehumanizing, commodifying, belittling and degrading, and it is offensive.
Many native peoples still speak the same languages, dance the same dances and sing the same songs.
One of the options that the Cleveland franchise is studying is to replace the nickname Indians by Naps, which was the official nickname of the entity between 1903 and 1914 - Indians arrived in 1915 - in honor of the formidable former player and coach Napoleon Lajoie, one of the first great figures of baseball in the twentieth century.
In addition to Cleveland, three professional clubs still have names that refer to Native Americans: they are the Chicago Blackhawks for hockey, the Atlanta Braves for baseball, and the Kansas City Chiefs for football.
The three have made it clear in recent months that it is not in their plans to change their name.