From Indians to Guardians: No More Native American Ties in Cleveland Team's New Name

The Major League Baseball team formerly known as the Cleveland Indians announced a new team name on Friday.

The team, which dropped the previous name in December, will be called The Guardians.

The team made the announcement on Twitter with a video highlighting the history the northern Ohio city and baseball's place in it.

Together, we are all... pic.twitter.com/R5FnT4kv1I

— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 23, 2021

"This is the city we love and the game we believe in, and together, we are all Cleveland Guardians," actor Tom Hanks said in the narration.

The team fielded over 1,200 suggestions for the team's new name to break away from the Native American imagery. The decision was made after over 40,000 fans were surveyed and 140 hours of research interviews were conducted.

"Our fans are at the heart of this decision," the team said on its website. "We heard this name often from our fans as a top contender because of its connection to the iconic Cleveland landmark - The Hope Memorial Bridge that stands just outside of our ballpark where the Guardians of Traffic have become a symbol of the city's resiliency."

The name and team logo were inspired by the Guardians statues flanking both ends of the bridge. The fastball logo has a bold letter "G" with wings wrapped around a baseball—guarding and protecting it.

The Cleveland Indians announce they are changing their name to the Guardians. pic.twitter.com/1xP1FyMsbh

— Sporting News (@sportingnews) July 23, 2021

"To protect, to keep watch, to defend. For Clevelanders, this is a way of life," the team said. "We fight together for what we believe in. And if we get knocked down, we pick each other right back up and keep fighting. We're resilient, hard-working and loyal – to this city and to each other. That's what it means to be Cleveland Guardians."

The team dropped the Chief Wahoo logo from players' jerseys and caps in 2018, but the Native American imagery was still used on merchandise. Years of protest and lobbying by fans prompted the team to begin the process of changing the name last year.

Many fans of the team were anticipating the new name to be the Spiders to pay tribute to the club's name in the late 1800s.

Cleveland Guardians
The Cleveland MLB team, formerly known as the Indians, has selected Guardians as its new name. Above, Bradley Zimmer trots around the bases after hitting a home run against the Oakland Athletics on July 18, 2021, in Oakland, California. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Paul Dolan, Guardians owner and CEO, said the team wanted to embody the history of the city and the loyalty of the fans when selecting the new name.

"We acknowledge the name change will be difficult for many of us, and the transition will take time," Dolan said. "It is our hope and belief this change will divert us from a divisive path, and instead steer us towards a future where our fans, city, and region are all united as Cleveland Guardians."

The baseball club has changed its name five times since it was formed, but it has carried the name Indians since 1915. The team will finish the 2021 season with the Indians name, and will rebrand for the 2022 season.

"This is a historic moment for our franchise, and we are excited for our players and staff to debut our new team name and look in 2022," President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti said in a news release. "We look forward to our team proudly representing the city of Cleveland as the Guardians. Our club will strive to unite and inspire our entire community."

Updated 07/23/2021, 11:17 a.m. ET: This story has been updated to add comment from the team.