Native Americans, others protest Indians' logo

Protesters gather outside ballpark's entrance on opening day to voice their displeasure about the red-faced Wahoo logo.
Associated Press
Apr 5, 2014

As excited baseball fans, many of them wearing Cleveland's smiling Chief Wahoo logo, headed into Progressive Field for Friday's home opener, a smaller group stood by unable to share their enthusiasm.

Holding hand-painted signs that read, "We Are Not Honored," and "Our Children Are Not Mascots," a contingent of Native Americans and some of their supporters demonstrated against the Indians' use of their red-faced Wahoo logo.

The protesters, who have been gathering outside the ballpark's entrances on opening day for years to voice their displeasure about the team's use of the long-standing logo, stayed behind barricades as Indians fans walked by for the game against the Minnesota Twins.

Robert Roche, executive director of the American Indian Education Center, is adamant the team should abolish the logo permanently.

"The issue is simple," said the 66-year-old Roche, his hair braided with white threads. "We are not mascots. I'm nobody's mascot. My children are not mascots. It mocks us as a race of people. It mocks our religion."

Roche and other organizers believe the protest is gaining support because of the growing national debate over sports mascots. The Washington Redskins have received harsh criticism for their nickname, and several colleges and high schools have made changes to their logos, mascots and nicknames.

"If you're looking at the average opening day fan, actually I see a little bit of a difference," said Sundance, a member of the Muscogee tribe, who has been protesting on opening day since 2008. "I see that there are a lot of people who have refrained from wearing Wahoo much more than in previous opening days, but I also see that there are a lot more people who have come out with the most bigoted Wahoo that they could find."

There wasn't much exchange between the groups in the hours leading up to the first pitch. However, a few fans yelled out derogatory comments toward the protesters, who either ignored them or disarmed them with compliments.

The Indians have made Chief Wahoo less visible in recent years, even adding a "Block C" to their inventory of logos. Roche, though, said the team's efforts to minimize Wahoo "are a facade."

Sundance finds more than the Indians' logo offensive.

"We want the logo gone. We want the team name changed," he said. "You can't do one without the other. There is this propaganda around Cleveland that somehow they are honoring us by having a team named the Indians and the Wahoo logo. So the tide is turning, the wind is changing. They feel that perhaps the Wahoo logo is not honoring us, but somehow the team name is and they haven't listened to the message."

Roche feels the movement to abolish Wahoo has grown.

"I do see a change, a slow change," he said. "It's progressively happening. The young people are more in tune to it, where a lot of these older people grew up with it and so did their parents. We have nothing against the game. I know it will change in time. I hope it changes before I die."



From the Grave

Do it. Maybe it will lift the f#@$ing curse!

Steve P

What curse they have the highest winning percentage of all the Ohio pro spots teams over the last 20 years, although I admit that's not saying much, but at least they win on a regular basis and attempt to keep their players.

From the Grave

What curse?! They blamed it on the Rocky Colavito trade. But maybe it was actually a Native American curse.

From the Grave

Though, how many counties, cities, schools, etc. in Ohio use names from Native American tribes? Is anyone offended by that? Is it really just the caricature of Chief Wahoo that is offensive? What if they changed the name to the Cleveland Shawnee, and got rid of the Chief?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Speaking of curses...

"Report: Economy Failing Because U.S. Was Built On Ancient Indian Burial Grounds"


Go Tribe! Should be considered an honor for the Native Americans. Do truckers take offense at Norwalks name? Do Sailors take offense at Vermilion's name? How about Brewers in Milwaukee? Could go on and on. Its just a nickname. Relax people! You could focus your efforts on more important things.

Azure Ray

How offensive and ignorant for you to compare an ethnicity (Native American) with a local occupation (Trucker)! You have no right to say that "they should feel honored," when clearly they don't. Unless you have a good percentage of Native American blood in you, that's not your call. Would the "Cleveland Coons" be any different, if people came to the stadium dressed up in blackface? Lots of whites got pretty upset that Nick Cannon recently posted pictures of himself with whiteface on. And I really don't think that the "Cleveland Asians" would be too happy if fans came to the stadium wearing hats with an image of an Asian on them. The Native American culture has been systematically eliminated and degraded ever since the Europeans immigrated here and claimed it as their own. For heaven's sake, I think we could grant them this one wish.


Lol. Cleveland Coons. That was funny.

There are many government benefits offered to being a Native American. I think they've been granted plenty.

Azure Ray

There are a few benefits, but not enough. And this issue isn't about a "benefit" like reduced college tuition - it's a matter of respect, which many people clearly do not have. Get rid of the chief.


Are you Indian? I personally never felt disrespect with Chief Wahoo. My full blooded Indian grandpa even cheered on the Indians, sporting his red Wahoo hat.
I do think it's an honor that they named it the Indians. Who picks out sissy names for pro/college sports teams?


I'm all for peaceful, swimsuit clad Scandinavian models protesting the Minnesota Vikings' large nosed, long blond hair braided, horn adorned helmeted warrior mascot as degrading and offensive to Northern Europeans.


Whether its an ethnicity or not, they are still being classified as a group. I don't get your point.

The Brownie Elf

I'm a 33 year old white male born and raised a huge Cleveland sports fan. I would have NO PROBLEM if they got rid of the Chief Wahoo. I think it is strange to have a team named after an ethnicity.

Dwight K.

I think they're racist for thinking it's racist... And I'm sure these guys are like only 1/16th native American and have nothing better to complain about


Im a quarter Indian, and I don't take offense. Neither did my grandpa.


Re: "We want the team name changed," - Robert Roche

Agree. The name "Cleveland" IS offensive. :)

Besides, it's spelled wrong.

See: Moses Cleaveland

Coram Deo


Steve P

Get a life, its a sports logo. My guess most of the protesters didn't have to take the day off from WORK. If this cigar store Indian is so concerned about his people, go work on the reservations where the highest incident of substance abuse in the nation exist, or where tribe elders has sold out their people for personal wealth with casinos.


pro sports are a steroid scam


Protestors should get a life. Should we start changing the names of rivers, mountains and countless towns because they are of Indian origin? Perhaps we should downgrade the chief to a warrior, brave or even a squaw.

Azure Ray

The issue isn't the name, it's the mascot. A black-faced mascot would never fly, but for some reason, a red one is ok?

Dwight K.

You'd probably just B#%&H regardless of what color it is

Ralph J.

You are correct. Take a good look at Chief Wahoo. Recall Sambo's restaurant. The name Sambo was part of the names of the two founders.



Ray, do you know the history of the mascot? The team was named in honor of a player generations ago who was Native American. Go find historic pictures of him - he looked a LOT like the Chief Wahoo logo, and that's by design.

Steve P

Some people just loved to be offended, get a life....

Guess you never saw the Fighting Irish of Norte Dame logo, don't see many Irish protesting on Saturday afternoon in South Bend....

Stop It

Never got that about Notre Dame. It's a French name but the skool associates with the Irish? Heh. Somethin' else to bi%ch about if one chooses...

Steve P

Norte Dame, French for "Our Lady", nickname, came from Father Corby one of the early presidents of ND, he was the chaplain for the New York Irish Brigade at the Battle of Gettysburg, that along with many of the early players in football came from Boston, New York and Chicago from Irish Catholic families. One of these players in a turn of a century game against the hated Michigan team an Irish player yelled to his Irish teammates, fight, you are Irish.


Nope, they're too busy reinforcing another stereotype of the Irish.

Amythe K

Please quit comparing Irish and truckers to the american Indians! They have been cheated,lied to been the victims of the most widespread and brutal ethnic cleansing in our history. They and they alone get to decide what is offensive to them...not you or I. Saying they are too sensitive or ****hurt reflects only your own small mindedness and white on rice point of view.

Steve P

Irish has not been victims, tell that to the families in Ireland and their relationship with the British for over eight hundred years. Those who claim racism usually are most racists.