CLEVELAND, OH – The Cleveland Indians today announced our decision to begin the process of changing from our team name “Indians.” Since July, we have conducted an extensive process to learn how our team name affected different constituencies and whether it aligned with our organizational values. As a result of that process, we have decided to move forward with changing the current team name and determining a new, non-Native American based name for the franchise.
In our statement in June 2020, we acknowledged the importance of taking a leadership role in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts across the community and enhancing our support for underserved and under-represented groups. As part of that commitment, we heard from individuals and groups who shared a variety of views and opinions on the issue. We are deeply grateful for the interest and engagement from Native American communities, civic leaders, leading researchers, fans, corporate partners, players, and internal teammates devoted to these formal and informal conversations. After reflecting upon those discussions, we believe our organization is at its best when we can unify our community and bring people together – and we believe a new name will allow us to do this more fully.
The Cleveland Indigenous Coalition and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) were both active contributors to our listening and learning process. The Cleveland Indigenous Coalition provided the following statement about today’s announcement:
“For six decades our community has fought tirelessly to be recognized as diverse and vibrant, instead of portrayed in inaccurate and harmful ways. By agreeing to change the team name away from Indigenous themes, the Cleveland baseball team is helping to create a place where Native American children and their families feel valued and fully seen. During this period of transition, we look forward to continued collaborative efforts with the team to move in a direction of healing, and to create a better future for all generations to come.”
Team Owner and Chairman Paul Dolan said, “Hearing firsthand the stories and experiences of Native American people, we gained a deep understanding of how tribal communities feel about the team name and the detrimental effects it has on them. We also spoke to local civic leaders who represent diverse populations in our city and who highlighted the negative impact our team name has had on our broader population and on under-represented groups across our community. I am truly grateful for their engagement and input, which I found enlightening and insightful. When a sports team is aligned with its community, it unlocks the ability to unite people from different backgrounds and bring people together in support of their home team. While Indians will always be a part of our history, it is time to move forward and work to unify our stakeholders and fans through a new name.”
The team’s decision to change the current name is phase one of a multi-phase process. Future decisions, including new name identification and brand development, are complex and will take time. While we work to identify a new and enduring franchise name, we will continue using the Indians name.
The decision to move forward with a name change is just one of several efforts the organization is making to continue to unify our region. Through Cleveland Indians Charities and partnerships with local civic organizations and institutions, we will enhance our continuing support of underserved groups and work to create a stronger, more equitable community. Currently, we are working with the Cleveland Indigenous Coalition along with other organizations to help support and raise awareness about the Native American community and other under-represented populations.
To learn more about Native American imagery and representation, and for more information on this announcement, visit MLB.com/CLETeamName.
About the Cleveland Indigenous Coalition: The Cleveland Indigenous Coalition consists of four Northeast Ohio Native American organizations: The American Indian Movement of Ohio, The Committee of 500 Years of Dignity & Resistance, the Lake Erie Native American Council, and the Lake Erie Professional Chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.