In recent years there has been a push for college and professional sports teams to shy away from using derogatory names for their teams; especially those aimed at Native Ameircans.
Last year the NFL Washington team eliminated Redskins from their team name.
And while Washington has yet to give their team a new name, the Major League Baseball team the Cleveland Indians has designated a new name for their team – the Guardians.
The Cleveland American League baseball team joined Major League Baseball in 1915 as the Cleveland Indians; but come the end of the 2021 baseball season, the Indians will go away to become the Guardians.
Team owner Paul Dolan spoke on the name change saying, “we do feel like we’re doing the right thing and that’s what’s driving this. I know some people disagree, but if anything I’ve gotten more and more comfortable that we’re headed in the right direction.” He added, “and actually, the selection of the name solidifies that feeling because of the values that the name represents.”
The name was chosen from a list of nearly 1,200 suggestions to replace the Indians name. The process included a survey of 40,000 Cleveland fans and conducting some 140 hours of interviews. While a list of the other choices was not revealed, the team noted that there were some tradmark issues in choosing the name.
The name Guardians was inspired by the eight guardians that adorn the Hope Memorial Bridge that locals refer to as traffic guardians.
The team will continue to use the red, white, and blue theme for uniforms and will incorporate the new logos into those uniforms.
Executive director and founder for the group IllumiNative – an organization dedicated to fighting the misrepresentations surrounding Native peoples – Crystal Echo Hawk also spoke on the name change saying, “it is a major step towards righting the wrongs committed against Native peoples, and is one step towards justice.”
Cleveland manager Terry Francona acknowledged that it will not be easy for all Cleveland fans to accept the change – especially the long time older fans – saying, “what’s important is how people that are different — not less, just different — how they feel about this. We’re trying to be respectful and trying to be unified. And change is not always easy, I get it, it doesn’t happen overnight.”
This is not the first time that Cleveland has had a team name change; when they joined MLB in 1901, they were known as the Blues. Cleveland has also been known as the Bronchos, Naps, and Spiders – a name popular with some fans on sicial media.