CLEVELAND — Cleveland's MLB franchise announced today that they've officially begun the process of changing their name from the "Indians."
Back in July, the club announced that they were opening to changing the team's name. Over the weekend, the New York Times reported the change was coming. Now, the departure from the "Indians" moniker is inevitable.
According to a press release from the organization, the decision stems in part from discussions from local and national indigenous communities.
"We believe our organization is at its best when we can unify our community and bring people together," team Owner and Chairman Paul Dolan said in a press release. "And we believe a new name will allow us to do this more fully."
The Cleveland Indigenous Coalition and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) were both involved in discussions with the team about the potential name change.
“For six decades our community has fought tirelessly to be recognized as diverse and vibrant, instead of portrayed in inaccurate and harmful ways," the Cleveland Indigenous Coalition, said in a statement. "By agreeing to change the team name away from Indigenous themes, the Cleveland baseball team is helping to create a place where Native American children and their families feel valued and fully seen."
While the change is coming, the franchise made no commitment as to how soon the "Indians" moniker would change, imply saying that the process will "take time" and that the team will still be called the Indians until a new name is decided. Tom Withers from the Associated Press reports the current name will remain in place through the 2021 season, but the new name will have no Native American imagery, meaning "Cleveland Tribe" will not be an option.
While the franchise looks for a new name, they've also announced increased efforts to work with the Cleveland Indigenous Coalition and other organizations to raise awareness of the Native American community and other under-represented populations.
Both Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish weighed in on the news of the impending name change.
“The change of the Cleveland baseball team’s name is a step in the right direction to reinforce for those in our City and around world that Cleveland is a welcoming city for all," Jackson said in a statement.
"I know that this decision by the Cleveland Indians to change their name was not taken lightly. After all, there is a long history, here in Cleveland, with our beloved baseball team. But, it is clear that this is the right move and the necessary move. We cannot allow cultural symbols, no matter how storied or 'traditional' to continue to spread hurt and sorrow. I look forward to whatever new name the team arrives at – more importantly I look forward to sitting with my fellow Cuyahogans in the summer sunshine cheering on our home team," Budish added.
Mark Naymik had more on this story as he spoke with local Native American leaders during What's Next. Watch below:
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