Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team is changing their name. Formerly known as the Indians, the team is now going to be known as the Guardians.
The announcement comes a year after the Washington Football team, formerly known as the Redskins, changed their name. It was revealed on Twitter on July 23 in a video narrated by Tom Hanks.
Cleveland’s team will start going by the Guardians after the 2021 season. Their new name is inspired by the art deco stone monuments known as the traffic guardians that hug the ends of the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge.
Together, we are all… pic.twitter.com/R5FnT4kv1I— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 23, 2021
Team owner, Paul Dolan, said in a press conference that he hopes the change will “divert us from a divisive path.” Dolan hopes the entire fanbase will soon learn to support and appreciate the name change.
Gabriel Skora, a fan of the team, is feeling great about the name change. Skora is a 24-year-old financial analyst from Kent, Ohio.
“Speaking for myself, I’m excited to support the Guardians,” Skora said. “I think it’s a strong move, I definitely see no reason for the fanbase at large to not be supportive.”
“Indians” has been at the center of debate brought on by America’s more recent racial reckoning. The team is promising to remove all names and logos considered racist.
They had been transitioning their mascot out of merchandise and uniforms.
“It’s really tough to cheer for a team, or for example buy a team uniform when you feel that way about the name — I remember looking to buy a jersey, only to realize I couldn’t be walking around in an Indians jersey with the Chief Wahoo mascot,” Skora said.
Professor Tok Thompson, an expert in the field of anthropology, believes the end to stereotypes is on the horizon.
Thompson grew up in rural Alaska until he moved to attend Harvard University to pursue a degree in anthropology. He also earned a Masters degree in Folklore and PhD in anthropology from University of California, Berkeley.
“I grew up in a subsistence lifestyle, with a lot of native influences in the area,” Thompson said. “I’m not native myself but there’s a lot of native members of my family. I was always really exposed to that culture, and when I went out to college I started realizing that other people were not.”
The opposition of Native American culture being used as mascots is not recent. It has been prevalent since the American Indian Movement in the 1970s.
“This has been going on for quite a while, we are getting down to the last few who are sort of refusing and that includes [teams] like the Washington Redskins for a long time and then the Cleveland Indians,” Thompson said. “There’s fewer of these mascot names now, [but] it’s been part of a long story.”
Even after years of advocacy for a change in the fetishization of native culture, there is still a long way to go.
Thompson referred to this as “the politics of representation.” He posed the question: “Who gets to represent a group?”
“There’s been a long issue of the militarily victorious group representing the militarily vanquished group, but if we are trying to have an America where everybody is respected from a multicultural viewpoint, then that has to change,” Thompson said
He pointed to the genre of Western films. “Other countries don’t have a Western genre because it’s a sort of triumphalist theatre,” Thompson said. “You hear that a lot, how the West was won, well it also means the West was lost.”
Thompson continues to spread his message through education.
“There’s a lot of people banging their head against the way trying to get things to change, so it’s a sense of relief when things do start to change because it gives me a great sense of optimism that at least you know we seem to be headed in the right direction,” Thompson said.