Published on Jan 29, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. | NCAI applauds today’s announcement by Major League Baseball that the league’s Cleveland franchise will retire the Chief Wahoo mascot and logo in 2019. NCAI has advocated for the eradication of offensive Native American-themed imagery from sports since 1968, and today’s announcement represents an important milestone for Indian Country in this effort.
NCAI has worked to educate Major League Baseball about this issue in recent years, sending several letters to the league highlighting the importance of removing this harmful mascot and logo, which resulted in a meeting with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred last year. Damaging imagery like the caricature of Chief Wahoo denigrates Native people and is harmful to their self-esteem, particularly for Native youth. Commissioner Manfred recognizes this fact, and thus kept his word, fulfilling his commitment to work with the team to retire the Chief Wahoo logo. NCAI commends Major League Baseball and Commissioner Manfred for choosing to stand on the right side of history.
“Today’s announcement marks an important turning point for Indian Country and the harmful legacy of Indian mascots,” said NCAI President Jefferson Keel. “These mascots reduce all Native people into a single outdated stereotype that harms the way Native people, especially youth, view themselves. Today’s news is a big step in the right direction, but much work remains, and NCAI will press on with this struggle until every single one of these harmful mascots is gone from the sports landscape.”
MLB is setting the example for how professional sports leagues can and should respect Native peoples. NCAI encourages all major professional sports leagues to follow the lead of Major League Baseball by retiring all offensive Native American-themed mascots, names, and imagery.
Over the past four decades, NCAI, hundreds of tribal nations, and their many partners have succeeding in eliminating more than two-thirds (roughly 2,000) of the Native-themed mascots from sports at all levels (nearly 1,000 remain today). NCAI is pleased to add the Chief Wahoo mascot and logo to that long list.
For more information, please see NCAI’s Proud to Be Initiative to learn how you can join the movement to eliminate harmful Native-themed mascots from sports.
About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit www.ncai.org.