WASHINGTON – Major League Baseball (MLB), under pressure from Native American groups, announced Monday that the Cleveland Indians will stop using the “Chief Wahoo” logo of a grinning American Indian from next year.
MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred said he had determined it was no longer “appropriate” for the team to use the logo, deemed offensive by some Native Americans.
The cartoon depiction of a red-faced American Indian has been used by the Indians since 1948.
The logo has been phased out over the past few years in favor of the letter “C” but players continued to wear caps featuring Chief Wahoo for home games and it appears on uniforms as a shoulder patch.
Manfred said it would be eliminated entirely from the start of the 2019 season.
“Major League Baseball is committed to building a culture of diversity throughout the game,” the commissioner said in a statement.
“Over the past year, we encouraged dialogue with the Indians organization about the Club’s use of the Chief Wahoo logo,” Manfred said.
“During our constructive conversations, (Indians owner) Paul Dolan made clear that there are fans who have a longstanding attachment to the logo and its place in the history of the team,” he said.
“Nonethelesss, the club ultimately agreed with my position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball.”
Dolan, the Indians owner, said that while many fans have a “longstanding attachment to Chief Wahoo” he was “ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019.”
The Indians are the latest U.S. sports team to change their logo or name following criticism from Native American groups.
Many U.S. colleges have dropped American Indian names in recent years but one high-profile professional team — the Washington Redskins of the National Football League — has repeatedly rebuffed calls to do so.