After called the Cleveland Indians for 100 years, the team will soon remove its feathers and warpaint and officially drop its controversial “Indians” nickname.
Was it really insensitive to call themselves Indians? Was it that hurtful to our native Americans for a baseball team to have that moniker? I guess so. But could the hurt and insult it apparently caused have been dealt with differently?
As a crisis manager, I probably would have advised them to scalp, excuse me, scrap the name if it was so offensive to many native Americans. Yet now I’m wondering if it could have been name-handled differently.
What if the Cleveland Indians went out of their way to benefit native Americans? Salute them. Cheer them. Honor them!
What if the club and their fans donated sizable amounts to improve their health, education and living conditions?
Are not Indians noble and their tribes deserving recognition and honor? Why is the connection with sports so dishonorable? Could not their honorable chiefs have thrown out first pitches?
I would have gone to my friend, actor, writer, performer J Reuben Silverbird, who is of Navaho and Apache descent. I would have asked his advice how they could have made that name palatable and a win-win for all and thereby preserve a piece of sports history.
Once I helped Silverbird name a restaurant he opened in Manhattan, one of the first to serve native American food. I suggested he call it “Silverbird,” which he did and I remember the staff beating tom-toms at the tables and serving delicious rattlesnake.
Cleveland continues to play as the Indians this season as it worked on finding a new name for the franchise.
After months of deliberation, Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team declared its new name will be the Guardians. The change will take effect after the current season.
The team decided last year that it would shift away from Indians, the name it had used since 1915, because it is considered offensive to many Native Americans and others who are opposed to the use of Native nicknames and mascots for sports teams.
Thus, they followed the Washington Football Team, which dropped the name “Redskins” last year.
The club engaged in an extensive outreach program with some 40,000 fans to find the new name and conducted interviews with community members and team staff.
The name has some resonance with Ohio residents who regularly cross the Cuyahoga River on the Hope Memorial Bridge. Two massive stone sculptures on the pan are known as the Guardians of Traffic and are said to be symbols of progress.
Well, hello Guardians. Goodbye Indians. Frankly, I’m sorry to see you go.
Besides an inveterate blogger, Tom Madden is an author of countless published articles and five books, including his latest, WORDSHINE MAN, available this summer on Amazon. He is the founder and CEO of TransMedia Group, an award-winning public relations firm serving clients worldwide since 1981 and has conducted remarkably successful media campaigns and crisis management for America’s largest companies and organizations.