The Cleveland Indians Have Changed Their Name, Here's Where Other Teams Stand With Names

Cleveland's professional baseball team announced on Friday that it is changing its name to the Guardians following controversy surrounding the name Indians, prompting questions regarding possible name changes for other professional sports teams.

In 2018, the Indians removed the Chief Wahoo logo from its uniforms. In December 2020, they announced that they would be selecting a new name that had no ties to Native Americans.

The announcement by Cleveland's MLB team followed a similar decision made by the NFL's Washington Football Team, which abandoned the name Redskins following years of controversy surrounding its ties to Native American culture.

In addition to Cleveland's MLB team, several other professional sports franchises have names that are Native American-based that some feel are offensive and racist. These teams include the Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Blackhawks.

Despite the decision by the Guardians on Friday, the Braves, Chiefs and Blackhawks have all previously said that they do not have any plans to alter their names.

After the Washington Football Team said they would review their former name and mascot, a spokesperson for the Braves told Newsweek on July 3, 2020 that the team "honors, supports, and values the Native American community. That will never change."

"The Atlanta Braves relationship with the Native American community goes back many years and over the past several months, we have created an even stronger bond with various Native American tribes, both regionally and nationally, on matters related to the Braves and Native American cultures," the spokesperson wrote in a July 2020 statement to Newsweek.

On July 13, 2020, the Associated Press obtained a letter the Braves sent to season ticket holders stating that the team had no plans to alter its name.

"We will always be the Atlanta Braves," the letter said according to the AP. "Through our conversations, changing the name of the Braves is not under consideration or deemed necessary."

A month later, the Chiefs banned fans from wearing headdresses that appropriate Native American cultures at games. The team also announced that it was prohibiting fans from wearing face paint "that is styled in a way that references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions."

Additionally, the Chiefs noted in a statement that they will conduct a review of the team's celebratory Arrowhead Chop but did not indicate any plans to change the name.

During an interview with the Kansas City Star in 2020, Chiefs President Mark Donovan said that the team sees its name as a "very different" situation when compared to the Washington Football Team.

"There's a lot of true equity value in the traditions and the name and the history of the Kansas City Chiefs. That's extremely valuable not only from an economic standpoint, but with the tradition of this team," Donovan told the Kansas City Star.

The NHL's Blackhawks have also said that they have no plans to consider a name change as their name honors a specific Native American leader.

"The Chicago Blackhawks name and logo symbolizes an important and historic person, Black Hawk of Illinois' Sac & Fox Nation, whose leadership and life has inspired generations of Native Americans, veterans and the public," the Blackhawks said in a July 2020 statement.

"We recognize there is a fine line between respect and disrespect, and we commend other teams for their willingness to engage in that conversation. Moving forward, we are committed to raising the bar even higher to expand awareness of Black Hawk and the important contributions of all Native American people."

Newsweek reached out to the Braves, Blackhawks and Chiefs for an updated comment on the possibility of a name change but did not receive responses in time for publication.

Cleveland's MLB Team Announces Name Change
The decision by Cleveland's MLB team to change its name to the Guardians has prompted questions about possible name changes for other professional sports franchises. Jason Miller/Getty