Why does an MLB team continue to utilize a racist cartoon illustration as their clubhouse brand? This racist logo represents the Cleveland Indians. The grinning, red-faced, feather-band wearing Cleveland Indians Chief Wahoo cartoon character is dehumanizing because it portrays Native Americans as nothing more than a mascot for sports. This portrayal of Native Americans makes the audience think that this cultural group all looks like this logo. Portraying Native Americans in this manner perpetuates the myth that this is an appropriate visual representation of this culture past and present. The negative stereotypical imagery such as the red skin and feather heather band used in this logo is a form of racism used for entertainment. Dehumanizing one cultural group in this way is devastating to society as a whole. It causes all of society to continue to perceive Native Americans as savages. Such negative use of Native American symbolism and terms is not acceptable, just as it is not acceptable to use racial slurs for any other team names. Native Americans are almost always depicted as cartoons and/or wearing traditional clothing or headdresses, when really they are just normal modern people. This perpetuates the stereotypical idea of this cultural group as they have been misinterpreted for the past few hundred.
The franchise refers to the imaginary cartoon depiction of a Native American in its logo as Chief Wahoo, claiming that the logo and name honor Louis Francis “Chief” Sockalexis, the first Native American to play baseball in 1897 for the Cleveland Spiders. However, there is considerable controversy over this explanation. A sportswriter actually began using “the Cleveland Indians” name in 1915 to refer to the team (at that time, they were just going by the name “Cleveland”). What’s more, an illustration of Sockalexis from an American Legion Magazine article from 1940 shows that the Chief Wahoo hardly resembles him
When referring to this logo online in April 2012, Sundance, the director of the Cleveland American Indian Movement, said "This behavior is exploitative, bigoted, racist, and shameful. It makes fun of genocide and mocks mass murder. The logo is just the head of an Indian. That means he is an ex-Indian. This has been going on for more than 50 years. I hope it does not continue for another 50". Sundance’s interpretation of bodiless head infers that the man is no longer alive, which perpetuates the notion that Native Americans are an extinct group of people.