Navajo Activist: Cleveland Baseball Team's Name Change A 'Victory' For Indigenous People

By Vaughan Jones
Published: Friday, July 23, 2021 - 3:28pm
Updated: Friday, July 23, 2021 - 4:16pm

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Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team is rebranding for the first time since 1915, to the Cleveland Guardians. 

The new name will take effect after the 2021 season, as the team moves on from the word “Indians.”

The team says fans, community leaders, and front-office personnel were consulted on the name change.

Amanda Blackhorse is a Navajo activist who has worked toward the removal of Native Americans as sports mascots. 

Amanda Blackhorse
Annika Cline/KJZZ
Amanda Blackhorse, a Navajo social worker, was involved in a lawsuit to change the Washington mascot for 15 years.

She says the name change is a victory for Indigenous people in Cleveland, but that victory took a long fight.

"I think the victory really belongs to the Indigenous people of Cleveland who have been fighting this for decades," said Blackhorse. “Elders have passed, y’know, they’re never gonna see this happen. They’ve committed a lot of time and effort to this, and some people will never see that. That’s how old this issue is."

Blackhorse says the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and baseball’s Atlanta Braves should see Cleveland’s change as a call to action and follow suit.

The name “Guardians” comes from 40-foot statues on a bridge outside the team’s stadium that have stood for almost 100 years.

The Guardians' spring training home is located in Goodyear. A representative from the city says officials are still in conversation with the team on how to update the team's presence in the city.

Goodyear Ballpark
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona.

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