Atlanta Braves to keep name but will review famous ‘tomahawk chop’ celebration
“We have great respect and reverence for our name and the Native American communities that have held meaningful relationships with us do as well,” the baseball team said in a statement
The Atlanta Braves has said that dropping the name of the team is not on the cards. In a statement on Sunday, July 12, the baseball team announced that it won’t be changing its name, but will review the tomahawk chop - a sports celebration that involves fans moving their forearms forward and backward with an open palm in a chopping motion, usually accompanied by chants. However, the celebration has long been questioned about the way it shows Native Americans.
The Atlanta Braves said in an email to season-ticket holders that it was not considering a name change of the team like Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians. "The Atlanta Braves honors, respects, and values the Native American community. As an organization, we have always drawn strength from our diversity and respect for everyone. That will never change," it said in an email posted on Twitter by Paul Lukas from Uni Watch blog.
The baseball team also said that it has had the support of Native Americans for many years. “Last fall, we furthered this relationship and pledged to meet and listen to Native American and tribal leaders from many areas, including the Eastern Band of the Cherokees (EBCI) in North Carolina. As a result, we formed a cultural working relationship with the EBCI and have also formed a Native American Working Group with a diverse collection of other tribal leaders to collaborate on matters related to culture, education, outreach, and recognition on an on-going basis,” the email continued. “We have great respect and reverence for our name and the Native American communities that have held meaningful relationships with us do as well. We will always be the Atlanta Braves.”
However, the letter added that the Braves are reviewing their tomahawk chop celebration. “As it relates to the fan experience, including the chop, it is one of the many issues that we are working through with the advisory group. The chop was popularized by our fans when Deion Sanders joined our team and it continues to inspire our players on the field. With that in mind, we are continuing to listen to the Native American community, as well as our fans, players and alumni to ensure we are making an informed decision on this part of our fan experience,” the letter read.
Meanwhile, Washington Redskins announced that it will change its name after decades of criticism that it is offensive to Native Americans. The announcement from the football team came after FedEx threatened to end a $205 million stadium sponsorship deal. In a statement released on Monday, July 13, the team said that after announcing the “commencement of a thorough review of the team’s name” on July 3, they will now be retiring the Redskins name and logo “upon completion of this review”.
Earlier, owner Dan Snyder, a boyhood fan of the team who once said he would never change the name of the team, launched a “thorough review” amid rising pressure from the sponsors.
The statement added, “Dan Snyder and coach Ron Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design approach that will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition-rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans, and community for the next 100 years.”