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."




Sounds like Amythe slept through History class.


You don't hear about people protesting the name Yankee which is a negative term form northern white people... I mean k could under stand if the team was called the red skinned savages scalpers... bit really I think its just a cry for politically correct attention... funny how you don't hear them trying to change the name of the Indian casino though....

Ralph J.

Indians as Mascots; Diminution of the Human Spirit

Steve P

"The Tribal Council's resolution reads, in part, that the "Seminole Tribe of Florida has an established relationship with Florida State University, which includes its permission to use the name, 'Seminole,' as well as various Seminole symbols and images, such as Chief Osceola, for educational purposes and the Seminole Tribe of Florida wishes to go on record that it has not opposed, and, in fact, supports the continued use of the name 'Seminole.'" The resolution also supports the use of the Seminole head logo, which is endorsed by the university."

Ralph J.

Compare Chief Osceola to Chief Wahoo. Show me a painting of Chief Osceola and compare it to a goofy looking cartoon picture with big teeth, stupid looking eyes and red skin. It would be like comparing a picture of an upstanding black person to a racist cartoon depiction of a black person.

Steve P

Yep, all the Indians did the "tomahawk chop."


Sad to see what has become of the strong Indian braves that fought hard against overwhelming odds and technology to keep the plains open for themselves and their off spring. Now those same Indians decendants are so thin skinned they must keep up the eternal victim hood card because they are offended at a baseball team mascot. What a long hard fall those decendant's have made, A shame to the memory of their ancestors.
Seriously speaking they should rename the Indians to "1/16 Native American who likes to complain" They can use the picture above as a mascot.

The Big Dog's back

They could rename them the Cleveland Micks.


For those of you saying relax it's only a sports mascot, then why should it be so hard to let it go? Cleveland needs to shed it's image of a burning river, rust belt relic of the past and having a racist caricature logo just reinforces the negative image. Progressive thinkers are not likely to embrace a city whose fans don't recognize it's time to move on. Show respect, get respect.

Steve P

When was the burning river, rust belt relic a problem in Cleveland, maybe 40 years ago. Have you been in downtown Cleveland lately? Playhouse Square, The Warehouse district, new hotels, condos, Gateway District, Ohio City, Tremont, restaurants, new Browns Stadium, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Tower City, Great Lakes Science Center, new convention center under construction and the Indians becoming a winning team with Chief Wahoo. Maybe Detroit should rid itself of the cat prejudice, look at their decaying downtown and bankruptcy, lets blame the Tigers & Lions. Try to get into this century


Steve, I'm in downtown Cleveland several times a month. The amenities you described are nice, but nothing any city in the country doesn't have. I was thinking of things more substantial like fortune 100 corporate headquarters or colleges rising to the level of the Ivy's or great state institutions. Cleveland continues to lose population at a steady rate and needs to do a lot of things to turn it around. One good visible PR gesture would be to lose the silly cartoon and stick with the new block "C" which speaks to Cleveland pride at no one's expense.

Steve P

Ivy League, really other than the east coast, oh how about John Carroll and Case Western. Major Corporate HQ, like KeyCorp, Progressive, First Energy, Parker Hannifin, Sherwin Williams, Cliffs Natural Resources. Compare Cleveland to Detroit, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh (on par) and Columbus minus state government in our region


Only six out of the Fortune 500 and in one form or another they've been here for at least 50 years. If we had six like Google, Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, Apple and Amazon, then you'd have a point. Case WR is #37 and John Carroll isn't even nationally ranked. As much fun as I have in Cleveland it is an average city at best and needs some new creative thinking to regain the national stature it once had.


CWRU has the highest return on investment of any school in Ohio. Heads of state from around the world come to Cleveland for medical care, usually flying OVER Rome, Paris, and London to get there.

Also, if we wanted to live in a NYC, LA, Chicago, we'd move there.


Progressive thinkers seem to whine a awful lot.


My, but they DO, don't they.


Double post


People around here are so ignorant, closed-minded, and prejudiced. I can't wait until the day I can get the heck out of here.
The name and mascot should be changed, as should all the local high school sports teams (Redskins, Redmen, etc.)with racist overtones. It's not rocket science to see this is inappropriate in this day and age.

Steve P

" I can't wait until the day I can get the heck out of here." Don't let the door hit you in the Indian blanket. Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, Utah Utes, San Diego Aztecs, Florida State Seminoles, Chicago Blackhawks and even those evil Canadians for the Edmonton Eskimos. I am assuming you mean the entire U.S and now western Canada to escape all this terrible prejudice.. Every time I go to downtown Cleveland all I see are those displaced native Americans suffering in their teepees and lodges because of Chief Wahoo and his Cleveland Indian tribe.


Tomahawks, arrowheads, feathers, drums and dignified images of noble warriors, these team symbols are not what we're talking about here. We're talking about a caricature that looks like a grinning fool.

Steve P

Again what tribe used the tomahawk chop as a ceremonial practice, oh yes native Americans named Atlanta Braves, Florida State Seminoles. Thanks for proving my point it is a CANICATURE not a depiction of a real person.

Dr. Information

To me he looks like a very happy Indian. You know, one that just got paid at a tax free casino.


"these team symbols are not what we're talking about here."

But they ARE in those cities - they're all experiencing the same sort of protests by MORONS who don't comprehend what's going on.

I say, to illustrate the point, the ownership should propose renaming the team the Cleveland crack-whores or the Cleveland wifebeaters, then when everyone screams how inappropriate that is, respond, "well, hasn't it always been your point that naming a team for someone is the worst insult in the world? Then we should name the team after someone worthy of an insult." That's the stupidity of this movement - it fails to grasp the basic concept that teams are typically named for people, groups, or objects that one admires for attributes that bring about success and victory.


These people are DOOMED:

Dr. Information

Until the Natives start paying their fair share in taxes, I say don't budge one bit.

Ralph J.

The origin of “redskins” is attributed to the historical practice of trading Native scalps and body parts as bounties and trophies. In 1749, the British bounty on the Mi’kmaq Nation was a straightforward “ten Guineas for every Indian Micmac taken or killed, to be paid upon producing such Savage taken or his scalp.”

Settlers were paid for killing and scalping the Penobscot people. The bounty for a male Penobscot older than 12 was 50 pounds, and his scalp was worth 40 pounds. The bounty for a female Penobscot Indian of any age and for males under 12 was 25 pounds, while their scalps were worth 20 pounds. These scalps were called “redskins.” The question is simple: suppose that a “redskin” scalp that was brought for payment was your mother, wife, daughter, father, husband or son? The fact is Natives are human beings, not animals.

The current Penobscot Nation chief, Kirk Francis, declared in a joint statement that “redskins” is “not just a racial slur or a derogatory term,” but a painful “reminder of one of the most gruesome acts of . . . ethnic cleansing ever committed against the Penobscot people.” The hunting and killing of Penobscot Indians, Francis said, was “a most despicable and disgraceful act of genocide.”


Our ancestors invaded their lands, raped and pillaged through their villages, ethnically cleansed our population and eradicated most aspects of Native American culture. But I guess it's still okay to demean and belittle Native Americans by turning their culture into a cartoon character to represent sports teams. Shame on any Native Americans for being offended.

Matthew Eric

And after all this time I thought Indians were from India.
Who knew they were from Cleveland, and Native Americans are mad as hell!
You learn something everyday.

Steve P

What protest two or three people who are what 1/16th native Americans, don't see massive protest of tribes in the streets of Cleveland. What I did see was many fans wearing Chief Wahoo logos spending money into the local economy. The only outrage is from those who want to be offended.

Darwin's choice

I think that all the presidents should be protesting over "Obama" being called a "President", he insults all those before him......

Where are the protesters for that?