CLEVELAND (AP) — For the first time since 1915, the Cleveland Indians will consult with Native American groups as they consider changing the name of their franchise.
Owner Paul Dolan gave more details on the steps the team is undertaking on a potential name change amid a national movement to remove racist symbols and monuments.
Earlier this week, Dolan met with Cleveland’s players, front-office members and manager Terry Francona to discuss the possibility of a name change as well as other issues such as social justice and race relations.
Dolan called the talks “candid and productive.”
“Our players care about the organization and feel strongly about social justice and racial equality,” Dolan said on the eve of the team’s delayed season opener. “I support their interest in using their platform to unite our city and our nation through their actions.
“As I explained to our players, I am invested in engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to help determine the best path forward with regard to our team name. In the coming weeks, we will engage Native American leaders to better understand their perspectives, meet with local civic leaders, and continue to listen to the perceptions of our players, fans, partners and employees.
“We feel a real sense of urgency to discuss these perspectives with key stakeholders while also taking the time needed to ensure those conversations are inclusive and meaningful.”
The Indians’ decision to consider a name change comes on the heels of Washington’s NFL team dropping the name Redskins along with a logo deemed racist and offensive by many.
Cleveland removed the contentious Chief Wahoo logo from its game caps and jerseys after the 2018 season. The smiling caricature had been part of the team’s history since the 1930s. Despite it not being on the team’s game-day apparel, Chief Wahoo is still on some merchandise available to the public.
Dolan said the team intends to share “periodic updates as we make progress” on the name change. The team hasn’t definitively said it would drop Indians, which has been its name for 105 years, but it appears there’s momentum toward that taking place.
Francona said a few weeks ago that it was “time to move forward” and change the name. Many Cleveland fans seem to be in favor of a new moniker as well, but there is some resistance by those who don’t view Indians as an offensive term.