Editorial: Eliminate 'Chief Wahoo' mascot

"Chief Wahoo is the Indians' mascot, a grotesque caricature grinning idiotically through enormous bucked teeth. You can see him during this week's American League Championship Series between the Indians and the Boston Red Sox. He's a reminder of the days when whites regarded native Americans as savages on the warpath, with scalps dangling from their belts. And it's time for him to go.

How can we profess equality of all Americans, then mock the first Americans in our sports teams? Remember, Cleveland isn't the only culprit here. Take a look at the mascot for the Washington Redskins, and you'll see what I mean.

One defense comes from the Cleveland Indians' official history, which claims that the team was renamed in 1915 to memorialize Louis Francis Sockalexis, the first American Indian in the major leagues. So the team's name – and, by extension, its mascot – serves to honor native Americans, not to demean them.

There's one problem with the story: It's not true. Mr. Sockalexis had died just two years before, in 1913, but his name didn't figure in talks on renaming the team. Even more, it's irrelevant. Suppose the team had indeed been named to remember Sockalexis, who played for the old Cleveland Spiders from 1897 to 1899. That still wouldn't justify the use of Chief Wahoo, who bears little resemblance to Louis Sockalexis – or to anyone, really, aside from a shared racist image of the savage Indian."

Get the Story:
Editorial: The Cleveland Indians' mascot must go (The Christian Science Monitor 10/15)

Relevant Links:
Cleveland Indians - http://indians.mlb.com
National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media - http://www.aimovement.org/ncrsm

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