Opinion

Dropping Chief Wahoo is big step forward for Cleveland team

Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians are dropping Chief Wahoo as their primary logo. It's a gigantic step in the right direction, says Ian Campeau, for the team to retire the racist caricature of a First Nation person.

It's a preemptive move by Cleveland in response to pressure on Washington NFL team, Ian Campeau says

The Chief Wahoo mascot is no longer, and fans can expect the team brand to survive under a capital "C" logo. (Tony Dejak/Associate Press)

The Cleveland Indians are dropping Chief Wahoo as their primary logo.

It's a gigantic step in the right direction to retire the extremely racist caricatured depiction of a First Nation person.

I believe this is a preemptive move by the Cleveland Major League Baseball organizationin response to the pressure that the Washington NFL organization has received over the past year.

It's a good move, and in the right direction, but for now the logo will remain on caps and jersey sleeves.​ And we're still being stereotyped and labelled as "Indians" by the organization. They’re still exploiting us for non-indigenous profit by using the name. It’s still robbing us of our individual nationhood.

Until the team name is changed to something that doesn't marginalize by race, it will continue to receive criticism.

A social media campaign and pressure from Campeau's human rights complaint against use of "Redskins" mascot and name spurred the Nepean minor football club to re-think its brand. (CBC)

The youth football team in the Ottawa region, The Nepean Redskins, changed its name after a three-year social media campaign to have the team name retired. It wasn’t until the Human Rights Commission was invoked that a team for children as young as four switched its racially offensive name to the Nepean Eagles.

The Indians dropped Chief Wahoo without being in the hot seat.

It’s as if the Cleveland baseball organization is seeing a shift in the times and taking the necessary precautions to ensure their brand will survive under the camouflage of a stylized “C” — instead of a jovial, stereotypical idea of what an “Indian” looks like though a colonial lens.

Changing the logo isn’t the full desired result of ending socially acceptable racial oppression. But the fact that Cleveland dropped Chief Wahoo without the same pressure that was needed to change the Washington Redskins name is a great sign that times are changing for the better.

About the Author

Ian Campeau

Ian Campeau, also known as Deejay NDN, is part of the Ottawa-based trio A Tribe Called Red. The band mixes traditional powwow vocals and drumming with cutting-edge electronic music. An Anishinaabe from Nipissing First Nation, Campeau is a known activist for indigenous rights. He often tweets the #changethename Twitter hashtag.

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