Was Chief Wahoo a real person? The controversial history behind the logo of Cleveland's baseball team

Following severe criticism and backlash from fans and Native Indians, the 'racist' moniker is no longer associated with the team


                            Was Chief Wahoo a real person? The controversial history behind the logo of Cleveland's baseball team
(Wikimedia Commons)

Major League Baseball franchise Cleveland Indians have finally decided to change their team name. Following severe criticism and backlash from fans and Native Indians, the "racist" moniker is no longer associated with the team. This news was confirmed on Sunday, December 13, along with the update that the team will announce the new identity soon, according to our earlier report.

It was a long-overdue change brought about by protesting Native American groups who revolted against the racist and demeaning use of Indigenous mascots and imagery for sports teams. Two years ago, the team started to alienate themselves from their Indians identity by stopping the use of their mascot, Chief Wahoo. This new development urges us to look into the controversial history behind Cleveland's baseball team's logo. 

Who is Chief Wahoo?

Chief Wahoo was a caricature of a Native American that was used as the team's logo from 1947 to 2018. In 1947, Bill Veeck, the owner of the team hired JF Novak Company to create a logo for Cleavland. The company used to design patches worn by Cleveland police and fire departments. At the time, 17-year-old Walter Goldback, who was working as an employee at the company, was tasked with creating a mascot that "would convey a spirit of pure joy and unbridled enthusiasm".

And so was born the yellow-skinned smiling face and a prominent nose. Goldbach had reportedly said that "The last thing on my mind was trying to offend anybody" and that he had difficulty "figuring out how to make an Indian look like a cartoon". Over the years, the design Goldbach created has been modified and updated. Sportswriters would take to calling this "Chief Wahoo".

Around 1950, the image started to be referred to as Chief Wahoo. And a year later, the image was redesigned to the racist imagery we see today. Anti-Wahoo protests have been happening for decades now with one going back to 1997, where demonstrators were arrested for burning Wahoo in effigy. AP reported that the protestors sued the city and charged police of harassing them and violating their right to free speech. 

Earlier, when the news broke out about the franchise dropping the name, Donald Trump tweeted, "Oh no! What is going on? This is not good news, even for “Indians”. Cancel culture at work!"



 

While the team's decision comes after Washington Football Team's July decision to stop using the name Redskins, it has stirred a massive debate among angry and content fans on social media.

"@Indians chief wahoo will live on my leg and man cave forever no matter how PC your are and if your a white liberal you don't get to say what is racist to other cultures, white libs have ruined this country," a user tweeted against the move.

"A lifetime of being a tribe fan, first they got rid of the best logo in sports (Chief Wahoo) now this!! All the proof ya need that liberals ruin EVERYTHING!! " another added. "Political correctness sucks! Gonna miss you Chief Wahoo! Best smile in baseball! For this they have to be renamed The Cleveland Steamers!  your World Series drought should continue for 100 more years for this! #cancelculturekills" another user said. 



 

 



 

 



 

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