SPORT / Chief Wahoo : The Curse of Cleveland

Image from Newspaper Rock

Most racist logo in sports:
Has Chief Wahoo again cursed Cleveland?

By Harvey Wasserman / The Rag Blog / July 13, 2010

CLEVELAND — Another tomahawk has sailed into the hearts of Cleveland sports fans. Is it the work of Chief Wahoo, the most racist logo in all of sports? Has the ridiculous, buck-toothed profoundly offensive caricature of a single-feathered native poked yet another hole in Cleveland’s soul?

Mark Welsh, part Ho-de-no-sau-nee (Iroquois) and part Lakota (Sioux) might say so. Mark is a mainstay of the native community in Ohio’s capital. For years he’s joined other activists when the season opens in Cleveland. They picket in protest of a cartoon they find deeply offensive.

In response, Cleveland Indian fans throw beer at them.

It’s time to reconsider.

The departure of LeBron James from the Cavaliers is a death blow. Barring a miracle, no major sports franchise in this tough, depressed lake town has even a remote shot at a league title in the near future.

Not since the glory days of the football Browns and their great running back, Jim Brown, has there been a champion in Cleveland. The Browns and Cavs have both threatened since. The Indians twice came within a run of winning the World Series. The details are too heartbreaking to recount.

How about a name change? How about dumping that logo? How about a powwow with the native community to find a new spirit and image? It’s been a welcome, long overdue trend in college sports. And it’d give Cleveland something — ANYTHING!!! — to talk about beside LeBron’s jump to the beach.

While at Syracuse, Jim Brown played Lacrosse with the great Ho-de-no-sau-nee spiritual leader Oren Lyons. Let’s get him and Jim together, organize a transformation of the name, face, and soul of Cleveland baseball, and move on.

A public renaming would be a magnificent gesture at a time like this. An act of contrition, and of grace. Our nation’s capital could then strip the “Redskins” off that football team, an unconscionable epithet in this day and age.

Along the way, of course, we’d like to see communities finally own the sports teams whose billionaire speculators demand free stadiums, huge tax breaks, and the right to abuse the fans who love them with reckless abandon.

But in the meantime… how about it, Cleveland?… let’s bury Chief Wahoo! We can be absolutely certain that whatever comes next will be better.

Mitakuye Oyasin.

[Harvey Wasserman’s History of the United States is at. www.harveywasserman.com]

Photo by Mike Simons / Getty Images.

The Rag Blog

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4 Responses to SPORT / Chief Wahoo : The Curse of Cleveland

  1. A slim majority, if you count New Mexico (Mexico is a Toltec name) and Indiana (guess why) have Native names.Texas is named for a word in one of the local Caddoan dialects for Friendly. The tribe who spoke it, and their language, dead within a generation from the Gift of Smallpox. Maybe measles.

    Ohio is one of those states. Doesn't grant them an automatic pass on the name "

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am part Indian and I like the mascot. What better character than a brave warrior to portray a sports team.. Padres??

  3. I know I don’t speak for every other or even ANY other Indian/Native/First Nation or for that matter any other whites (even though I’m part white too) The tribe leading the protest, they’re the ACTUAL Cleveland Indians, they’re the folks whose ancestors settled the Ohio region long before the first English ever came along. So, technically, they DO speak for the Cleveland Indians. They had the title before there was a “Cleveland”.

    As for people throwing beer at Other People, why the assaultive behavior? Are the fans in some way Offended by somebody objecting to their people being reduced to caricature? Why? How?

    You know, if I were to throw beer or any other object at say, a police officer, even purified water, I would be charged with “Aggravated Assault w/Deadly Weapon against a Peace Officer” so the fanatics doing that are actually committing a felony.

    Why assault people because they object to what they see as an insult? I’ve heard much smack talked about the protests on Fox and Clearly Hate Channel radio, but not even a little bit of condemnation for the behavior of the fanatics

    Somebody’s got some ‘splainin to do, Lucy, and it ain’t the Iroquois Confederacy. The ones who sling beer and probably other stuff are behaving like monkeys at the zoo, slinging poop at the tourists. If anybody needs to be ashamed or ridiculed by the Fox commentators and Limbaugh, it would be them. They bring shame to the White race with that.

    At a time when the Yankee Government is trying to strip the tribes of their sovereignty, AGAIN, it takes on even more urgency. Offensive as the cartoon is, the pure Hate Speech in favor of it isn’t just offensive.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You can’t throw beer at the Protesters because they protest outside the stadium. Cleveland has an open container law, so fans can’t walk up to them and dump beer on them. This is a fabricated part of the story. They just claim it has happened so they can get others on their side. Nothing is wrong with the chief. I’m a white guy, should i be offended that the Minnesota vikings are making fun of my heritage?

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