In the latest of a long line of “traditions” threatened by political correctness, a group of Native Americans lead by the American Indian Education Center is planning on suing the Cleveland Indians for $9 Billion, based on over a century of “disparity, racism, exploitation and profiteering.” This comes just after the Washington Redskins had their trademarks revoked due to offensiveness. Burning River Baseball has already covered the debate around Chief Wahoo, from the argument for, against to the history behind the logo and team name so there is no reason to rehash those things here. Check the links if you haven’t seen the arguments.
While the debate about Chief Wahoo and other Native American based team names and logos isn’t new, this lawsuit brings a new twist. This suit certainly seems like a ploy for attention and nothing else. Essentially, the offended parties are going after every penny the Cleveland Indians organization has ever made since 1901. This ignores the fact that Chief Wahoo didn’t come around until the 1940′s and that the Indians name is so offensive the people who are doing the suing call themselves that (American Indian Education Center). It also has no basis in reality as the Indians, the Dolans and even the city of Cleveland would have a hard time scrounging up $9B. Since the lawsuit has little merit, it would seem the Native American group chose a number so large they would make national news, possibly getting closer to what they really want, which is the removal of Chief Wahoo as the Cleveland logo.
As said in the past, the Indians have been slowly removing the Chief from every day use since 2001 while stating to the fans that they are not doing so, in an attempt to make every one happy. As often happens when this is attempted, no one is happy as the die-hard Tribe fans still want to keep Chief Wahoo and the small group of offended natives does not consider the slow withdrawal enough. What will come from this lawsuit and the Redskins trademark removal and appeal is yet to be seen, but all those in Cleveland will be following both situations closely. It certainly seems as if the $9B will be thrown out if it ever makes it to court, but even so, it may be enough to finally put the final nail in the burning Chief Wahoo protest coffin. With all the animosity at present, it is difficult to imagine any professional sports team using a Native American as a logo by the end of the decade, including the Indians, Braves, Redskins and Blackhawks.
The Indians can’t even avoid the protests on the road as a group stands outside of Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ.