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Cleveland Indians to ban Native American headdresses, face paint at games ahead of name change

Ryan Young
·2 min read
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Though the team has yet to settle on a new nickname, something it pledged to do last year, the Cleveland Indians announced on Monday that fans will not be allowed to wear Native American headdresses or face paint at Progressive Field this season.

The policy change comes ahead of Cleveland’s home opener on Thursday against the Detroit Tigers.

Fans at Progressive Field, according to The Associated Press, can be either ejected or denied entrance for disorderly, unruly or disruptive conduct that includes “headdresses and face paint styled in a way that references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions. Inappropriate or offensive images, words, dress or face paint must be covered or removed, and failure to do so may constitute grounds for ejection or refusal of admission.”

Fans can still wear team gear that features the old Chief Wahoo logo — something the team removed from its jerseys several years ago but still sells on official merchandise.

Cleveland to change name in 2022

The Indians announced in December that the team would change its team name, but not until the 2022 season at the earliest.

Though Cleveland had held that name for decades, and endured countless calls to change it, longtime manager Terry Francona supported the decision.

“The organization has done many, many things to listen to people and to try to understand, which I think we’ve all said early on we needed to do,” he said last year. “I think [team chairman and CEO] Paul Dolan came out early on and said he really wanted to listen. And that’s what the leaders in our organization did.

“We always said we didn’t ever want to be disrespectful. But I think we found in 2020 that just saying that wasn’t correct anymore. And so regardless of how we felt about it, what was really ultimately most important is how other people that it was affecting felt about it. So as an organization, we do what we always try to do, to do the right thing. I’m really proud of our organization for trying to do the right thing.”

Chiefs made similar ban

The decision to ban Indigenous headdresses and face paint is similar to a move the Kansas City Chiefs made before the NFL season started last fall.

The Chiefs made that announcement just more than a month after the Washington Football Team ditched its old racist nickname. They also started reviewing their “Arrowhead Chop” chant – an often criticized chant that the Atlanta Braves also started reviewing — and their “Drum Deck” at Arrowhead Stadium.

Though the move marked progress for the organization, a group of Indigenous protesters from the Kansas City area still drove down to Florida to protest outside of Raymond James Stadium during Super Bowl LV to urge the team to change its name.

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