The Cleveland Indians Are Changing Their Team Name

Professional baseball in Cleveland will soon be played by a team with a different name, according to a report by the New York Times.

The Cleveland Indians began holding discussions about the possibility of a name change this summer after years of protests calling the team name and former Chief Wahoo logo “derogatory,” “racist,” and “offensive.”

Manager Terry Francona said in July that he believed the time had come for the team to change its name after more than 100 years.

“I think it’s time to move forward,” Francona said. “It’s a very difficult subject. It’s also delicate.”

The New York Times reported December 13 that the team had decided to change its name and could announce its plans for a new nickname as soon as this week.

According to the report, the organization could move forward with a replacement name in the same manner that the Washington Football Team did—adopting a temporary name and consulting with the public for a new, permanent name.

Native American groups have, for years, demanded the team change its name and encouraged the organization to “eliminate harmful and racist Native American sports mascots, names, and imagery.” The organization removed the Chief Wahoo logo in 2019 from on-field use and around Progressive Field.

AP Photo/David Dermer

Sundance, executive director of the Cleveland American Indian Movement, responded to the news of the team’s name change.

“After 1/2 century of protest, of course we are happy to hear that the franchise is finally making the changes that we have long demanded.

However the franchise says that it is working with the local Native community, and we are dubious of that claim. Our fear is that, once again, the franchise will attempt to make dupes of the Native community and use this occasion to weave a false narrative in support of transitioning to from ‘Indians’ to ‘Tribe’ — which is unacceptable. In that vein, and for the sake of transparency, we insist that Cleveland Baseball be very specific about whom they have consulted, with and to what ends.

So while we greet this news with skepticism, if the announcement occurs certainly we will welcome this long overdue change.”

The team has yet to make an official announcement but discussions have been had within the organization, which previously said it was listening to players, fans, partners and employees in regards to the team name.

To read the New York Times article, click here.

Fans React

Since the news of Cleveland’s baseball team discussing a name change broke in July, fans have sounded off. Some understand the desire to change the name, others adamantly argue for keeping it the same.

A Twitter poll in July showed that 70.9% of respondents didn’t want the team to change its name.


Fans reacted to the New York Times report that the team will be changing its name as early as next week, and once again the opinions vary.

“I think it’s a little bit PC but if Native Americans don’t necessarily want it, I’m fine with changing to a different name,” said fan T.J. Kalvas. “It makes sense that if a group of people are affected by it then we should probably change it and respect them for what they want.”

Dan Deuble, another fan, said that changing the team which has been used for the past 105 years seems “blasphemous” but won’t stop him from watching them play.

“The fact that people want to change the Cleveland Indians to anything else kinda seems blasphemous to me,” Deuble said. “I just think it’s people caving into the nomenclature. It doesn’t matter what you call yourselves. I’m going to watch regardless.”

Some fans hope that the team doesn’t opt for a generic stand-in name like the Washington Football Team did, but instead chose something meaningful to the area.

“If they go back to the Spiders or they go back to something else I would fully support it,” said fan Kevin Nicholls.

It appears for many fans that no matter how they feel about the decision to change the name, they’ll continue to watch and support their home team.

“It wouldn’t change my view of watching it, watching the Indians at all, or whatever they change their name to,” Nicholl said.

Watch the report from News 5 Cleveland below:

By Camryn Justice, News 5 Cleveland