Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians will consult with Native American leaders as the franchise continues looking into the path forward for the team’s name.
“We will engage Native American leaders to better understand their perspectives,” team owner Paul Dolan said in a statement.
Dolan said he had met with players and team manager Terry Francona who also want to help the team work through the process.
“Our players care about the organization and feel strongly about social justice and racial equality,” Dolan said. “I support their interest in using their platform to unite our city and our nation through their actions.”
Dolan said he would also meet with local leaders, and listen to the views of the fans, partners and employees.
“We feel a real sense of urgency to discuss these perspectives with key stakeholders while also taking the time needed to ensure those conversations are inclusive and meaningful,” he added.
Sports teams with names based on Native Americans – including the MLB’s Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves – are facing pressure to re-examine their names as more Americans directly address racism.
The National Football League’s Washington franchise, formerly known as the Washington Redskins, announced on Thursday that it will be called the “Washington Football Team” until a new name is selected.
The Atlanta Braves said earlier this month that the franchise’s team name will not change but the team will look into the use of the Tomahawk Chop, an arm movement done by fans to cheer on the team.
Cleveland previously removed its “Chief Wahoo” logo, a racist caricature of a Native American character, from team uniforms after the 2018 season.
Earlier this month, the team told CNN it is “committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality.”
Following the release of that statement, Francona said that he believed it was time to change the team’s name.
“I know in the past, when I’ve been asked about, whether it’s our name or the Chief Wahoo, I think I would usually answer and say I know that we’re never trying to be disrespectful. And I still feel that way. But I don’t think that’s a good enough answer today. I think it’s time to move forward. It’s a very difficult subject. It’s also delicate,” he said.
“Even at my age, you don’t want to be too old to learn or to realize that, maybe I’ve been ignorant of some things, and to be ashamed of it, and to try to be better.”