Cleveland Indians in the Midst of Heated Team-Name Controversy (Again)

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  • Ralf Peter Reimann via Flickr

The Cleveland Indians are yet again being dragged through the mud in the national debate surrounding controversial names and derogatory team mascots.

In the latest bout of racist team-name news, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder pulled the ol' nostalgia trumps racism card.

He's currently wrapped up in a lengthy legal battle against a group of American Indians who are attempting to block the team from getting federal trademark protection.

The issue has received so much press lately that it even reached Washington DC and prompted remarks from President Obama who told the AP that he would “think about changing” a name that offends “a sizeable group of people.”

This type of heated controversy hits close to home for us Clevelanders as the Indians have long been part of the debate.

In 1915, Cleveland's baseball team changed its name from the Naps to the Indians. Since then, Clevelanders have cherished Native American themed mascots and logos, like Chief Wahoo.

On one hand, American Indians feel that the names and mascots support negative and hurtful stereotypes about their heritage. On the other, sports fans often have a hard time overriding nostalgia and attachment to their team.

Our own Chief Wahoo is "the only professional sports logo in the western world to caricaturize a race of people," said Peter Pattakos in his Scene feature story from 2012, "The Curse of Chief Wahoo."

For some fans, changing the name means changing it all: the jerseys, the logo, the mascot. Especially in Cleveland (read Believeland), change means placing all of our blood, prayers and tears in something new and unfamiliar.

Would you change the Washington Redskins’ name? How about the Cleveland Indians?

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