By Mark Naymik, cleveland.com | Posted October 12, 2018 at 08:08 AM | Updated October 12, 2018 at 09:46 AM
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Chief Wahoo made his final appearance on Cleveland Indians uniforms on Monday, when the Houston Astros swept the Indians out of the playoffs with ease.
Though the team’s owners announced in January that Chief Wahoo would be benched in the 2019 season, relegated to team merchandise only, they didn’t want their team or their controversial team logo to disappear so soon from this year’s post-season run.
As it turned out, the red-faced, buck-toothed and hook-nosed Chief Wahoo got to mock Native Americans for the last time on Columbus Day, which commemorates Christopher Columbus’s landing in the Americas. Columbus’s arrival, we often forget, was followed by colonization and the murder of native peoples, who now use the day to celebrate their heritage under the banner of Indigenous People’s Day.
Setting aside the irony of Chief Wahoo’s last stand, his demise was long overdue.
In recent years, more and more people have sided with Native Americans and the sentiment that the Chief Wahoo logo, which has appeared on uniforms in one form or another since 1947, is offensive. It’s the only logo in baseball to depict a race of people. The only sports team more widely vilified over a name or logo is the National Football League’s Washington Redskins.
Monday also officially marked a new beginning for Larry Dolan and his family, who bought the team in late 1999 and whose views on Chief Wahoo have evolved, or at least have bent to public pressure. Though the logo remains hugely popular among rabid Cleveland Indians fans (merchandise sales back this up), it had become a distraction. As I pointed out during the 2016 World Series, when the Indians faced off with the Chicago Cubs, the debate over Chief Wahoo became a major story line of the series. And in the past two years, videos of Indians fans on Opening Day disparaging Native Americans and others demonstrating against Chief Wahoo have gone viral.