Striking out the Chief Banishing 'Chief Wahoo' Is Right Call in Cleveland

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), February 4, 2018 | Go to article overview

Striking out the Chief Banishing 'Chief Wahoo' Is Right Call in Cleveland


After more than 75 years, the Cleveland Indians have decided to retire the controversial Chief Wahoo logo at the start of the 2019 season, much to the betterment of Major League Baseball, sports and our common culture.

The Chief Wahoo icon has been a mainstay of Cleveland baseball at least since 1947, though some date its origins as far back as 1932. Its visage has long graced the Indians' uniforms, ballparks and merchandise. For many, the grinning, red-faced, feather-wearing Indian was a silly yet memorable ambassador of the American pastime.

But for Native Americans, Chief Wahoo was a crude, racially insensitive caricature of their ethnicity.

For more than 25 years, Native Americans have protested the Cleveland Indians' team name and the Chief Wahoo logo. Before a protest in 2012, the Cleveland American Indian Movement described the logo as "exploitative, bigoted, racist and shameful." How can such an indictment be dismissed?

Many have decried Chief Wahoo's retirement as a social travesty, as political correctness run amok. But the reality is that there have been innumerable words, practices and behaviors that Americans have retired for the sake of civility and respect over the years. The use of "blackface" in entertainment, for example, was discarded long ago. …

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