Native American groups applaud Cleveland Indians name change

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Many Native Americans in the Chicago area said they support the Cleveland Indians changing their name next season to the Cleveland Guardians.

"This is the bare minimum. Indigenous people have been asking for accountability from these large organizations for using harmful stereotypes," said Adrien Pochel, a member of the Chi-Nations Youth Council

The team has been known as the Indians since 1915. The organization made the name change decision in response to the social unrest following the killing of George Floyd last year.

RELATED: Native-Americans weigh in on 'Blackhawks' name

Their new name references Cleveland's architectural history and their colors will remain the same.

"It is our hope and belief that this change will divert us from a divisive path and instead steer us towards a future where our fans city and region are united as Cleveland Guardians," said Paul Dolan, the owner of the Cleveland Indians.

Tol Foster is the interim director of the Native American Support Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He said how Native Americans are often portrayed is harmful.

"These kinds of racist mascots damage the self-perception of children that when kids are out in the schoolyard they are not like adults, they tend to call each other names," he said.

RELATED: Washington Redskins retire team name and logo after pushback from sponsors
EMBED More News Videos

What will the Washington Redskins' new name be? Here's what we know about the change coming to one of the NFL's oldest franchises.



The Washington Football Team dropped their controversial name last year. Their new name is expected next year.
Earlier this week in our area, the Lemont High School District 210 Board of Education voted to discontinue the use of Indians for athletics.

Some are hoping that the Chicago Blackhawks will make a change, but the Blackhawks organization has previously said they have no plans to change their name or logo because it symbolizes an important and historic person.

RELATED: Washington Redskins name change has fans wondering if Chicago Blackhawks are next

"They really haven't put the time and money into educating people about what's the real story of Indian people here and the real story about Black Hawk," said Dr. Dorene Wiese, the president of the American Indian Association of Illinois.

Dr. Wiese said she wants more people to take the time to learn about American Indian history.

"We don't live in teepees. We live in apartments and houses. We dress like everyone else. We don't wear feathers in our hair every day," she said.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.