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Hot Button: Native American Nicknames

OK, so it’s time to reveal the results of the first Hot button question survey. Thank you to the 3,000 or so people who took the time to answer the questions. The first question was not really a question — I didn’t know how to put an opening page that simply explained the survey, so I gave people three boxes to check. In case you are curious:

91.7% of you checked: Got it.

1.1% of you checked: Totally confused.

10.5% of you checked: Where do I get the prizes?

That’s more than 100%. I think some people checked two boxes. OK, here we go:

* * *

Question 1. Do you think the Washington Redskins should change their name?

Strongly yes, The name is offensive and awful and should be changed as soon as possible: 27.1%

Yes. the name offends some and that is a good enough reason to change it: 37.2%

Neutral: 14%

No. The name has sports history and it’s not a serious enough issue to demand change: 14.8%

Strongly no. The name isn’t offensive and the efforts to change it are just PC run wild: 6.9%

Broken down:

Yes: 64.3%
No: 21.7%
Neutral: 14%

* * *

Question 7: Do you think the Cleveland Indians should get rid of mascot Chief Wahoo?

Absolutely yes. It’s an embarrassment that such a racist figure sill represents an MLB team: 32.9%

Yes. Mascots are supposed to be fun and should not offend people: 31%

Neutral: 16.1%

No. Wahoo is fun and I just don’t think this is much of an issue: 13.6%

Absolutely no. Wahoo rules and people just need to stop taking it so seriously: 6.4%

Broken down:

Yes: 63.9%
No: 20%
Neutral: 16.1%

* * *

I put these two questions in for only one reason — I was curious to see if readers have a different or stronger feelings about a disputed Native American NICKNAME and a disputed Native American MASCOT. I had an opinion about that coming in. But before getting into that, I will say that since I put up the poll Bob Costas offered a passionate argument that the Washington nickname is offensive and should be changed and conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote a column where he too believes the nickname should be changed. So the Washington name issue seems to be getting hotter again.

Krauthammer’s column is fascinating because it pointedly makes the politically correct argument (“I wouldn’t want to use a word that defines a people — living or dead, offended or not — in a most demeaning way,” he writes about the word “gyp” and, I can only assume also believes about Redskins) while also mocking people who make the politically correct argument (“You would not stop because of the language police. Not because you might incur a Bob Costas harangue. Not because the President wags a finger”). There seemed a lot of conflict in that column.

My feeling on this is that the arguments for or against are more or less spent, everybody’s just repeating themselves, people have staked their position and nobody is likely at this point to be swayed. I just call them the Washington Hogs. Better nickname. Steeped in history. I’d love to see the uniforms.

What interested me more was the Redskins v. Wahoo question. See, for me, there is a distinction … and I will readily admit it could be a personal distinction. I don’t really care about the Washington Hogs. They are not my team. I have no more (or less) interest in them than I do the Seattle Seahawks or Houston Texans. And so while I may have my opinion about the nickname itself, I don’t have any skin in the game — pun intended and groaned upon. I don’t have any investment in the team, no personal connection to the name, no emotions tied whatsoever. In other words, it’s easy for me to say: Change the name. What do I care?

But Wahoo? That’s different. I have a deep and weighty connection to Wahoo. I grew up with Wahoo. I wore hats with Wahoo. I have jerseys with Wahoo. I hung pennants on my wall with Wahoo. When I was a kid there was a giant Chief Wahoo batting on top of Municipal Stadium. I loved that sign with all my heart, all my soul, because seeing it meant, nine out of ten times, that I was going to see the Indians play baseball. I think of that sign the way I think of the John Cougar song, “Ain’t Even Done With The Night.” I don’t suppose that’s a very good song, but I love it anyway because it reminds me of one my favorite days as a kid. In memory, I never thought once of Wahoo as a racist caricature, never thought once about how a Native American might view it. For me: Wahoo just equaled baseball. So on this, I think my opinion is somewhat valid because I do have something at stake here.

And here’s what I think: I honestly cannot believe the team has not gotten rid of Wahoo. I understand that changing nicknames is tricky. That’s a very public thing. Washington — and for that matter Cleveland, Atlanta and others — could not change their name without it being a huge deal. It would be the talk on the radio, on television, in newspapers, on the Internet, there would be ferocious opinions about it, massive arguments about it. Could you just see the debate shows? Are we giving into the PC culture? Have we all become too sensitive? What does it tell you that in an America rife with problems we are changing sports nicknames? It would be a tempest, everybody knows it, and I’m sure in part this is why so many are reluctant to wade in.

But Wahoo? The team could quietly get rid of Wahoo at any time with relatively little fuss. Yes, a few observant people like Craig Calcaterra might notice and say, “Hey they are phasing out Chief Wahoo,” and there might be a little bit of a rumble, but so what? The team could say, “Nah, it’s still a part of the team, we’re just trying some new things,” and just keep making it less and less a part of the team. It’s just a logo*.

*I referred to Wahoo as a “mascot” in the question — technically that’s not right. it’s really a logo. Technically, THIS unspecified thing is the Indians mascot.


Point is: Logos change all the time. I mean ALL THE TIME. I would argue that if you take out the politics, the Indians would have gotten rid of Wahoo years ago. Forget the racist question, they would have gotten rid of it because its not that good a logo, because new logos sell uniforms, and because — let’s be honest — Wahoo has not exactly been super successful. The Indians have not won a World Series since 1948. They could use a change.

When I say logos change all the time, I mean it. We just don’t think about it. The Kansas City Chiefs logo used to be this embarrassing thing:


And now it’s this:


As long as we are talking about questionable logos, the Philadelphia Warriors logo was this for a while:


The Atlanta Braves logo was this:


But the point here is — forget about whether a logo is offensive. Logos change because times change. They change because the old gets stale. They change so the team can sell more merchandise or change its image or even change its entire personality. The New England Patriots logo used to be this guy:


And now it’s this thing:


The Denver Broncos logo used to be this:


And now it’s this orange-eyed and very angry bronco:


These kinds of changes happen all the time. Makeovers. Sometimes they don’t make sense to the rest of us. The Milwaukee Brewers had this AWESOME logo … and (regrettably) changed it.


But change happens. And happens. And happens. The Celtics are as iconic a franchise as we have in America, and their logo is one of America’s most famous, and when they were dominant in the 1950s and 1960s it was this:


The Miami Dolphins just changed their logo to make the Dolphin angrier (and got rid of the Dolphin with the “M” on his helmet, which was always one my favorite uniform quirks). Tampa Bay changed name from Devil Rays to Rays and changed logos and went from a laughingstock to one of baseball best teams (perhaps its coincidental). In college it happens even more often — I love that Kansas State changed from this:


To this:


Point is, Cleveland could use a new logo for countless reasons. There’s an irony here — in the 1970s, Wahoo really wasn’t a bit part of the Cleveland Indians. The giant Wahoo in front of the stadium was there, as mentioned, but the hats did not feature Chief Wahoo. The Indians went through a dreadful run of uniforms including the famous red monstrosities of the mid-1970s, and Wahoo did not feature prominently on any of them. It was in the 1980s that there was a Wahoo revival. By then the team KNEW that some groups found Wahoo offensive. They did it anyway. Wahoo was prominently feature on the cover of SI in the infamous “Believe It! Cleveland is the best team in the American League” fiasco of 1987. The Indians proudly finished with the worst record in the American League instead. They could have dumped Wahoo right then and there, not for political reasons but because it wasn’t exactly bringing them good luck.

It’s a little bit harder now because Wahoo has become entrenched. But realistically the team still could change logos without creating the sort of scene that changing Washington’s name (or Cleveland’s name) would create. So, I guess, I find that to be a different issue. I find Wahoo to be MORE offensive than Redskins because it would be easier to change.

But, as it turns out (he says 1,500 words into the post) people who took the poll did not feel that way. The numbers run pretty much in line with each other. A few dozen more people checked “neutral” on the mascot question — they think it’s not as big an issue. And a few dozen feel more strongly that Wahoo is racist/offensive than the Redskins nickname. But more or less, people seem to feel like the two issues are the same. So I guessed wrong on that one.

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58 Responses to Hot Button: Native American Nicknames

  1. Jules says:

    I just don’t understand why the media is pushing so hard on this team-name argument, unless y’all think that you can somehow browbeat Dan Snyder into changing it. He has made it very plain that he isn’t going to. So why continue to waste time, airspace, ink, and bytes?

    • Doug says:

      First, because it’s useful and good to draw a line in the sand, to stake out a position which is clear and incontrovertible about what is OK.

      Second, because even if talking about it doesn’t lead to the team changing its name, just talking about it is going to change the way people think on it. If it’s being talked about it, if the case for why it’s unacceptable is being made a lot, that’s going to lead people to think about it more and maybe come to a better understanding of the case that people are making, and the issues that underlie it. So even if it doesn’t affect Dan Snyder, it could still affect other people.

      Third, because there is, at least in theory, a point at which no one – not even Dan Snyder – could keep the name, a point at which it just becomes totally untenable because of the weight of public opinion. Even if it’s extremely unlikely that things will get to that place, there’s really no harm in giving it a try, especially since it’s not like it’s a massive investment of time or energy.

      But I’m not a member of the media, so I don’t know. I guess I’m talking more about fans talking about it than the media.

  2. John Leavy says:

    My take, for what little it’s worth: “Redskins” is an offensive name that should go.

    Names like “Indians,” “Braves,” “Illini,” “Seminoles” and “Chiefs” don’t bother me in the least- but Chief Wahoo has got to go.

    Interestingly, one of the teams that HAS changed its name to avoid offending Native Americans is St. John’s University (my Dad’s alma mater), who used to be the Redmen but are now the Red Storm. What’s odd about that is, St. John’s nickname had absolutely nothing to do with Native Americans! Their basketball team was called the Redmen for the same reason Cincinnati’s baseball team is called the Reds: because that was the color of their uniform!

    Chris Mullin’s fans didn’t wear feathered headdresses. Bill Wennington’s fans didn’t do the Tomahawk Chop. There was no Indian mascot. Even so, St. John’s changed a perfectly innocent name for no reason, while Dan Snyder won’t change a blatantly offensive name even when he has very GOOD reasons.

    • Andrew says:

      I believe (and I could be wrong) that St John’s changed their name more out of gender equality concerns, much like Syracuse changing from the Orangemen to the Orange.

    • invitro says:

      Was it maybe changed because of the “men”? The same reason that Orangemen was changed?

    • frightwig says:

      The old St. John’s nickname may have originated as nothing but a reference to the colors of the school’s team uniforms, but St. John’s did adopt a Native American mascot known as “Chief Blackjack.” I have a St. John’s sweatshirt from the early ’90s that features a dancing Indian chief underneath “St. John’s University”–so the Chief Blackjack iconography was part of their merchandising practically right up to the end.

      Also notice that the new St. John’s mascot, known as “Johnny Thunderbird,” is just a less offensive adaptation of Native American culture. According to, St. John’s Official Athletic Site, that’s entirely intentional: “Paying tribute to the previously dropped mascot, the ‘Redmen’ and mixing in the 1994 created ‘Red Storm’ nickname, the Thunderbird was defined as follows during the original fan voting: ‘A mythological spirit of thunder and lightning believed by some Native Americans to take the shape of a great bird. Boasting feathers as long as a canoe, the legendary thunderbird can generate lightning, thunder and great winds by flapping its wings and blinking its eyes.'”

      The Cleveland Indians could do something similar: make a logo of a feather hanging off a “C” or an “I,” or a Thunderbird or some other spirit animal, or a dreamcatcher, whatever. It seems like there should be a broad range of satisfactory middle ground between the offensive, outdated Wahoo and the alternate, boring block “C.”

    • Chris M says:

      Actually, SJU DID have a Native American mascot in the 80’s and early 90’s, but got rid of it a few years before they changed the team name. I still have a “Redmen” t-shirt with a dribbling Native American on it from the Malik Sealy era

      But you’re right that the origin of the name came from the color f the uniforms. For a long time after they changed names, fans still chanted “Lets Go Redmen” b/c the name change was so unpopular. I stopped going to SJU games during the Mike Jarvis era (because I moved, but it luckily coincided with the scandal and a decade of sucking), so I don’t know if the fans still chant Redmen or not, though I imagine it’s not as be a deal anymore, since the kids playing nowadays weren’t even born the last time that was the team’s name.

      • Richard (different one from the above) says:

        Arguably the dumbest name change for a team has to be when the Cincinnati Reds changed their name to the “Redlegs” in the 1950s because… wait for it…. the color “red” was associated with Communism….

    • Bill Caffrey says:

      Others have already made the point, but just to emphasize…yes the name Redmen was given to them by sportswriters because they wore red uniforms. But they most definitely did adopt a Native American mascot/logo.

      And I’ve followed the basketball team closely ever since Shelton Jones was a freshman on the Final Four team in 1985. I never heard it mentioned that they switched to the Red Storm from the Redmen because of “men.” It was always about the Native American association.

      In fact, for at least one season, after St. John’s had ditched the Indian logo but had not yet switched to the Red Storm name, they had an actual red man as their mascot. It was literally a guy dressed in a red suit (complete with tails and a top hat I believe). I suppose the idea was to try to de-associate the Redmen name from its Native American association, but it had no chance of working. If I can find a picture of that guy in the red suit, I will post it. Haven’t been able to locate one yet though.

  3. Tim says:

    I’m an Indians fan who lives in D.C. This was the year I finally reached the point where I bought the non-Wahoo Indians hats.

    That said, while I think Chief Wahoo is an absurd caricature, that actually makes me think it’s less offensive than the use of the name Redskins. I always rationalized Chief Wahoo with the thought that it’s so absurd that it’s really kind of at a level past racism — it’s more like the Notre Dame leprechaun, a statement that, if that was anyone’s idea of what a Native American or an Irishman was, it would be the most offensive thing in the world. But no one looks at it and says “yes, that’s it, exactly.”

    The Rouge-Wearers, on the other hand, take a slur and then couple it with an accurate representation of a Native American. I admit, I don’t care about the NFL and certainly not the Rouge-wearers, since I’m an Ohioan who lives in D.C., so I have no attachment to the name. But the fact that the unquestionably racist name is coupled with a reasonably accurate representation makes it emphatically worse.

    • forsch31 says:

      To me, the name Redskins and Chief Wahoo are about equally offensive, but I can understand why some would think the Indians’ logo is less offensive. It’s a cartoon, not meant to be a realistic representation or to be taken seriously. I remember seeing Chief Wahoos in the Looney Tunes I watched as a kid, and I never thought they were supposed to what American Indians were like. But as an adult, I realize that Wahoo is, in reality, a Native American Sambo. And that if you have a logo that exaggerates and mocks racial characteristics of an entire people, then you’re probably doing it wrong. The Notre Dame leprechaun is at least is a cartoon character representing something from Irish mythology; nobody, in their right mind, believes that logo is supposed to represent the Irish themselves, even if it does have racial characteristics that do no appear from the depictions in myth. Chief Wahoo doesn’t have that mental buffer; it’s simply blatant.

      While your point about the Redskins coupled with an accurate depiction of a Native American is very good, the Chief Wahoo logo is a visual coupled with a benign name. Same problem, opposite way.

  4. As a longtime Indians fan, I also feel like I have a ‘stake’ in the Chief Wahoo discussion. I think he should be gone. As Joe says, logos change all the time.

    The tricky part of it for the Indians is that while logos change, their theme generally remains the same (the Broncos’ still features a horse, KSU still features a cat, etc.). Without copying some other team’s logo, what options are out there for Cleveland?

    I happen to really like the block C cap the Indians often wear, that’s the hat I wear. As primary logos, it’s pretty dull though, it’s not the sort of thing kids are going to draw in their notebooks at school (which I think its a pretty good litmus test for the quality of a logo).

    Someone put this logo together:

    It’s got a little more character.

    In the long run, they either find a way to market ‘Indians’ without Chief Wahoo, or they go the whole nine yards and change the name entirely.

  5. wordyduke says:

    The original Wahoo figure was drawn by a 17-year-old who had not taken Sociology 101, let alone the advanced classes. Like Max Patkin, Jackie Price, and Eddie Gaedel, Wahoo was used by Bill Veeck to draw attention and crowds.

    As Joe says, he has served his purpose too long and too faithfully and deserves retirement. If Veeck were still alive, there would be a funeral as there was September 23, 1949 when the Tribe was mathematically eliminated, with appropriate prizes for two of the lucky mourners.

  6. gosport474 says:

    Joe, I think a good new nickname for Washington would be the Pigskins. Sounds a lot like the old nickname but without offending anyone. It also plays on their unofficial nickname of the Hogs while paying tribute to the game of football. They could keep the same colors but also cash in marketing the new name and logo.

  7. If you don’t think Redskins is offensive, substitute Yellowskins and have a Chinese mascot with a button down jacket and a pig tail.

  8. Chris M says:

    The Redskins could just shorten their name to “Skins” (since that’s what everyone calls them anyway” and their logo could just be a big fat nudist, which is way more terrifying in modern society anyway.

  9. Marco says:

    Change the logo, change the name, and put the issue totally to bed,

    The team wins too, because they’ll have all new crap to sell to people and make a bunch of money.

  10. oira61 says:

    They should both be changed, but Redskins is more offensive because it’s racist on its face — can you imagine calling a team Brownskins? No, right? One can make an argument that Chief Wahoo is funny (I don’t agree with this argument, but still). But Yellowskins — no, no way.

  11. 18thstreet says:

    If I read Charles Krauthammer correctly: “If it’s my opinion, if I’m being sensitive. If the President or Bob Costas has the same opinion, it’s political correctness run amok.”

    Keep this consistency in mind when he criticizes the Department of Health and Human Services or the State Department. He’s a gem. And an expert on EVERYTHING!

  12. Jim Haas says:

    John Cougar? Good reference, especially in a post about names. Mellencamp dropped the fake name fairly early in his career.

  13. dominicancamp says:

    I have been hearing a lot about this issue over the last several weeks and wanted to give my take on it. Hopefully someone will reply and let me know if I am off-base.

    My initial thought whenever this comes up is that it is another case of political correctness gone too far. At the most basic level, the nicknames/logos of these teams do not offend me. If they did, I’d be honest about it, but I just am not, nor have ever been personally offended by any team nicknames.

    However, as a white male, I thought to myself–“maybe I’m not offended, but someone else is”.. I just thought, “I wish I could put myself in the Native-American’s shoes and maybe I would see things differently. Then, the other day, I had an “Aha” moment. You see, I am actually of Cajun decent from Louisiana. There happens to be a college team called the Louisiana Lafayette Rajin Cajuns. Now, for those of you who don’t know, the Cajuns were a group that was driven out of there homeland and settled in Louisiana and, to this day, receive a certain amount of discrimination.

    Anyway, I asked myself “Am I offended by this nickname”. My most basic, honest feeling about it is that I really don’t care that much. It’s just not that important to me. It certainly doesn’t offend me. I guess I would be somewhat disappointed if they changed the name because I take some level of pride in my heritage and think its great that the team recognized the Cajuns. And note they just aren’t the Cajuns, but the Ragin Cajuns which I guess some people could argue is somehow putting Cajuns in a bad light.

    So, this epiphany actually helped reinforce my thoughts that very few people are probably truly offended by these nicknames. I also have noticed that, over the last several weeks that this has really gotten back into the media that not one (ZERO) people that I have heard talking about how offensive these nicknames are have actually been Native American. One could argue that these non-Natives are actually the most racist of anyone because they seem to assume that Native Americans are not intellectually capable of deciding for themselves what offends them.

    My final summary:

    1) Life has way bigger problems/issues for people to give the level of attention that has been given lately to team nicknames
    2) Generally when there is true injustice toward a marginalized group, it is the poor/minority where the outcry comes from. This nickname thing seems to be coming primarily from middle to upper class white people whose life has evidently gotten so easy that they have time to invent problems where they don’t exist.
    3) Ask yourself. “Am I, personally, offended by this” or have you just convinced yourself that you see how someone else might be offended. If the latter is the case then almost every nickname out there could be a future target: Redskins, Braves, Indians, Blackhawks, Fighting Irish, Rajin Cajuns, Texans, Yankees…..Lions, Tigers, Bears (for those PETA folks).

    Final Thought. Anyone, (including myself), who has the time and energy to devote to this and consider it as a priority problem in their life has much to be thankful for, indeed.

    • 1. Did you know it’s illegal to have a trademark that is premised on a racially offensive name? Yep, it’s illegal, which is why many were stunned a few years ago when a federal district court judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the Redskins trademark.

      2. Your response combines anecdotal evidence with a lack of awareness of coverage of the issue. It was just a couple of weeks ago that’s Rick Reilly got into hot water for a column he wrote about the subject. His father-in-law is Native American and Rick quoted him as saying he wasn’t offended by the Redskins moniker. However, the father-in-law later spoke up to say that he was grossly misquoted, and that he finds the name deeply offensive. And there has been other media coverage where Native Americans opine on the subject. Some aren’t offended, but it seems, from what I glean, that most are.

      3. While you take it to absurd conclusions, when the Redskins name goes (and it will), how far will things go with respect to Native American based team nicknames? Will it be all-or-nothing, or will names/logos that seem more respectful survive?

      4. If one has the time to make sports a priority, having an opinion on a nickname issue isn’t a great expenditure of time and resources. You just devoted 7 paragraphs of your precious time to the subject, so it’s fairly condescending to chastise others for taking up the issue.

      • Chris H says:

        The district court decision was apparently based on the statute of limitations, which seems to me an odd thing to apply – there are many things which might not have been found offensive 100 years ago that might offend us now. But in any case, I don’t see how “Redskins” or Chief Wahoo or even the name Indians would standup against an EEOC complaint as creating a hostile work environment. (I’m not a lawyer and all that, of course.)

      • Wilbur says:

        “Did you know it’s illegal to have a trademark that is premised on a racially offensive name?”
        Do you have a citation for this?

      • dominicancamp says:

        I do appreciate the reply. I was hoping for someone at a national level to bounce my ideas off of since everyone here locally I discuss it with thinks it is a non-issue. You are correct that I may have a lack of awareness of the coverage of the issue. I have just noticed it being discussed a lot on sports radio that I listen to and I will repeat that I have yet to hear from a Native American on the issue. (as opposed to say the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s in which blacks were leading their cause and at the forefront). I feel like if we had a rally tomorrow on the National Lawn about this Redskins issue it would be a bunch of bored white people and not a crowd of offended Indians that would show up.

        To reply to your points:

        1) I am not aware of a law restricting what someone can name a sports team (or register a trademark), but for all I know such a law could exist. It would seem contrary to freedom of speech, but laws have been in conflict with freedoms in the past so I don’t know enough to reply to your bringing it up. I’m not sure how it relates to my original post. It would seem to leave a lot up to interpretation as far as what is “offensive”. “Redskins” does not offend me and I have my doubts as to how many people it, in fact does offend. If I could be convinced that it was truly offensive, then I would be in favor of the team changing it—while, also, at the same time, still being in favor of the owner having the right to call the team whatever he wants.–and in favor of people being able to voice their opinion about it.

        2) As mentioned earlier, I concede not to be an expert on the subject. I am, like everyone else, writing based on my knowledge of the subject.That is why I appreciate your response because we can all grow through dialogue. I am listening to your points and hope you are listening to mine. I would think that it would not be too much trouble for someone to come up with a scientific poll that determines if people are offended by the nickname…and really offended–not just think it possibly could be offensive to others if the poll respondent thinks about it long enough. It was my impression that Native Americans were polled and overwhelmingly were opposed to changing the name of the Redskins. I could be wrong.

        3) I agree that I took it to absurd conclusions. I think it is at an absurd conclusion already. Out of curiosity, at what point on the continuum do you declare that it crosses into an absurd conclusion: “Redskins, Braves, Indians, Blackhawks, Fighting Irish, Rajin Cajuns, Texans, Yankees…..Lions, Tigers, Bears (for those PETA folks)”

        4) I said that we have a lot to be thankful for if we have time to spend debating this. I believe that and I am thankful:-)

        • Chris H says:

          There’s a summary of the trademark case here, which cites “section 2(b) of the federal Lanham Trademark Act, which prohibits the registration of a mark that “ ‘consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.’ ” A district court ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to show that the marks were disparaging, but it seems all other litigation centered around whether the complaint had been filed in a timely fashion.

          • BGA says:

            Actually, from what I recall the ruling was that the plaintiffs failed to show that the word Redskin was considered disparaging at the time of registration, which was in the 40s I think. They brought evidence that the word is now considered disparaging but it was deemed irrelevant.

        • Tampa Mike says:

          It’s not a law, but a trademark can be rejected if it’s deemed racist. This is trademark protection only, so you can name your product, company, whatever any name you want, it just won’t be trademark protected. It only applies to new trademark applications. It is certainly not “illegal” by any stretch of the imagination.

        • Adam says:


          Because you haven’t looked. Someone mentioned a notable example within the last week about Reilly’s dad being po’ed about his son being involved. Here is just one article about one group within the last couple weeks as well:

  14. Total agreement — lifelong Indians fan (Pat Tabler FTW), and I have stopped buying anything with Wahoo on it. I get the “it’s beyond racism” thing, except there’s no real history of the US Government destroying a native culture of Leprechauns (at least, none that I’m aware of).

    Is there any question that, at some point, we’ll look back at how long it took for both Wahoo and Redskins to be eliminated with embarrassment?

  15. Anon says:

    To be fair, the Red Mesa Unified School, the high school in Teec Nos Pos, Arizona, uses “Redskins,” and this is a town that’s over 90% Native American; the logo makes it clear they’re talking about Native Americans here.

  16. Gegge says:

    Cleveland has a potential nickname that harks back to the early days of Cleveland baseball, would be great for marketing and mascots, and isn’t racist.

    Cleveland Spiders.

  17. Ernie Ball says:

    Those supporting the retention of Wahoo, need to explain why it’s different from the other two in this poster (or, alternatively, explain why the other two would be acceptable):

  18. Bret says:

    This isn’t necessarily directed to the opinions of Joe or previous commenters, but all this talk of Redskins and Yahoo makes me so furious that it’s almost hard to type. I continue to be astounded that anyone anywhere can argue that ANY of this stuff (Redskins, Wahoo, Braves, etc) is not grossly, overtly, disgustingly racist. It’s VERY RACIST. It’s not the “PC police” at work, it’s not “so far beyond racism it’s funny,” it isn’t a country gone sissy and soft, it’s extremely racist and I blows my mind that people defend any of it. Any. Of. It.

    White people (I’m a white dude, btw) destroyed Native American culture. They just totally annihilated it. This isn’t news to anyone, but it bears repeating. Now, we have sports teams bearing caricatures, named after pejorative terms, and so on. Braves fans do to the tomahawk chop. Chief Wahoo would make my grandfather cringe were he still alive. There is a football team called the Redskins.

    Guys: There is a football team called the Redskins.

    Racism is about power, and names carry a tremendous amount of power. Native Americans have been marginalized so deeply, so thoroughly in this country that there are people that ACTUALLY ARGUE THAT HAVING A TEAM CALLED THE REDSKINS IS OK AND THAT WE ARE BEING TOO SENSITIVE ABOUT IT.

    I just… I just can’t fathom it. It angers me so much that people put the importance of the name/mascot of an effing sports team – a sports team! – over the systematic oppression and destruction of an entire people.

    I just… wow.

    • John says:

      I completely agree with you Bret.

      Joe writes: “In memory, I never thought once of Wahoo as a racist caricature, never thought once about how a Native American might view it. For me: Wahoo just equaled baseball. So on this, I think my opinion is somewhat valid because I do have something at stake here.”

      This is the definition of privilege, when you never have to think about the implications of an act as a cultural reinforcement. This happens on issues of race, of gender, of income, of class, and more.

      What was is largely irrelevant (“in memory”), as is tradition. Imagine a new team starting today. This is, to one view, what teams do each and every season- start fresh. So the new team needs a name. Would you choose the Indians? Would you let Wahoo be the mascot?

      The phrase “politically correct” has been made a dirty word. Set aside that phrase for a minute.

      Consider whether you believe that people of a certain race are innately better at sports. If the answer is no, how can you use a team name built upon those sorts of racial stereotypes.

    • Wilbur says:

      We knew you were a “white dude” before you filled us in.

      And please put more words in caps. It truly advances your argument.

  19. Love them J's says:

    Ernie – love your strings.

    This is just me talking, and I was born in NY (Manhattan to be precise) and have a lot of Jewish heritage. I would so totally buy season tickets to watch the New York Jews play baseball.

    That name conjures up the House of David team for me and I think that the Jews vs. Yankees series would be fantastic. Or Jews vs. Braves – who would you root for? Would you hope that every game ends in a tie?

    Just the phrase “Jews versus…” anyone, really, stirs my soul. They could tour the world with that name. If the Harlem Globetrotters could do it, why not the Jews?

    I get the point, but that team name is just too wonderful for words.

    I can’t stop – do you think the Jews have a chance tonight against the Giants? They got Goliath batting cleanup but our David is a real flamethrower…

  20. Carl says:

    I voted that the name Redskins (and Braves, Indians, Chiefs, etc) is strongly not racist.

    As opposed to those who find it racist, I actually find it a compliment and believe it honors the native Americans. Feel a bit like when Laura Ingalls asked Pa to name the baseball team the Indians, “to honor and remember the people who were here first.”

    As opposed to a name though, Chief Wahoo is an insulting depiction that should have been dropped years ago.

  21. sourcreamus says:

    The term Redskins was not a racial slur, it was first used by Indians who would smear the bodies with paint. It was not adopted out of racial animosity but was changed from Braves because the team moved from the home of the Boston Braves to the home of the Boston Red Sox and the team wanted something red in the title. No one would name a team after something they thought was disparaging. Team names are supposed to bring associations with nobility, fierceness, and pride.
    If the team’s name is changed or the Indians mascot is changed, nothing good will come of it. Unemployment, diabetes, alcoholism will still be rampant in Indian communities. If you want to help Indians send help to charities that work in those communities or help in those communities. Don’t pretend that by pressuring a team to change its name you have helped the world become a better place. This is all about conspicous sensitivity.

    • Ernie Ball says:

      It wasn’t a slur and was first used by Indians? Really? What tribe and in what language? And, if not in English, how do you know the translation by “redskins” isn’t an invention of racists?

      Or were you just blowing smoke?

      • sourcreamus says:

        The first recorded use of red to describe Indians is from a meeting in 1725 with the Taensa tribe who spoke the Natchez language. The Chickasaw and Creek tribes also used red to describe Indians as distinct from white people.
        The first recorded use of the word redskin was a translation done in 1769 of invitation by a Piankashaw chief named Mosquito who spoke the Miami language.
        Redskins was first used in english by the Osage chief No Ears in a response to a speech by President Madison in 1812.
        Redskins was not commonly used by whites until James Fennimore Cooper used it in “Last of the Mohicans” in 1823. He probably picked it up from a newspaper story on a speech at a funeral given by the Meskwaki chief Black Thunder.

  22. Mark Warner says:

    One glaring error in your post: “Ain’t Even Done with the Night” is an AWESOME song.

  23. Chris says:

    Imagine that somebody calls you a derogatory name that you don’t like.

    Now imagine that the person who calls you that name belongs to another cultural group that systematically destroyed your culture and murdered your ancestors, all the while calling them that same name.

    Now imagine that the other group uses the name as a nickname for a sports team. The team logo incorporates stereotypes of your cultural symbols. Neither you nor any member of your culture had anything to do with naming the team, and few if any members of your culture own, work for, or play on the team. The name and logo were entirely conceived by the dominant, privileged culture in a crude misappropriation of your cultural background.

    Now imagine that when you point out that the name and symbology is offensive and that you’d like the team to stop using them, members of the dominant culture say “But the team is named that way to HONOR you!”

    Sorry, not buying it. That’s an “honor” that I don’t think I’d be interested in.

  24. Tom says:

    Life long Indians fan. Understand the need for the team to replace Wahoo. Still gonna wear my Tribe gear. DO NOT understand those that call for dropping the name Indians. The term itself is not offensive, just would be giving in to PC mania. Lose the name and I walk away completely.

  25. SteveM says:

    If it really is easier to change a logo than a nickname, the Washington football franchise could solve its problem simply by changing it’s logo to a potato.

  26. Brett Alan says:

    Don’t know how useful it is to comment on an old thread, but I came across an article tonight that suggests that the Indians are in fact doing EXACTLY what Joe suggested in this article, and have been for some time: phasing Yahoo out. He’s already off their batting helmets. He wasn’t on their official “postseason” shirts. He’s not on their new 2014 marketing materials, and they’ve unveiled batting practice jerseys for next year which are conspicuously Yahoo-free. All in all, he seems to be at least partly heading out.

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