Opinion | Sports

Cynthia Connolly: Time to banish Chief Wahoo and other mascots






A survey sent to fans in 2013. Image posted by HardBallTalk

Cynthia Connolly, a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, calls for the elimination of the Cleveland Indians mascot:
Considering the Cleveland Indians name began just 25 years after the Wounded Knee Massacre, I’m not entirely sure what part of history this mascot (Chief Wahoo) is trying to honor. To put this into perspective, there will never be a time when it’s OK for sports teams in Germany to be called the Jews.

In a 2012 interview, Bob DiBiasio, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for the Cleveland Indians commented that fans do not associate the logo with actual Native Americans. He stated, “When people look at our logo, we believe they think baseball.” This is troublesome considering it is impossible to honor a group of people if one does not even think about them. DiBiasio’s statement makes it clear that the mascot is not intended to honor or represent anything; it is simply a brand and marketing tool for Cleveland baseball.

However, Native people cannot afford to serve as the brand for sports teams. Not when in 2010 the Pine Ridge Reservation declared a state of emergency due to unprecedented youth suicide rates. Not when Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped. Not when Natives have the highest poverty rate than any other race in this country.

The use of Native mascots generates a great deal of apathy, making it difficult for anyone to take our socio-economic issues seriously when all they know are costume headdresses, the tomahawk chop, and Chief Wahoo. We simply cannot allow America use our name and image whenever and however they choose for their entertainment. Especially when they don’t even think of us. They only think of baseball.

Get the Story:
Cynthia Connolly: Time to banish all Native American mascots, including Chief Wahoo (The Cleveland Plain-Dealer 3/30)

Another Opinion:
Michelle Jacobs: 100 Years of Insult: Ban the Cleveland Indians Name and Logo (Indian Country Today 3/30)

Related Stories:
Opinion: What will you do after Cleveland 'Indian' mascot dies? (3/10)
Editorial: Cleveland baseball team should retire 'Chief' mascot (02/28)
Cleveland baseball team asking for opinions on 'Chief Wahoo' (10/24)