'Keep the Chief' tee by Cleveland's GV Art & Design weighs in on controversial Indians' Chief Wahoo

CLEVELAND - It may be the first week of March but Cleveland fans are talking about a logo more than they are spring training.

On the last day of February, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published an editorial urging the Indians to get rid of Chief Wahoo , which the daily called a "demeaning symbol" that "represents a racially insensitive stereotype of Native Americans."

That's stirred emotions among fans on both sides of the issue and has been a more dominant topic of conversation than the Carlos Santana third base experiment or the possibility of signing Justin Masterson to a long-term extension.

Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed has taken a stand against "the Chief," comparing the logo to the Confederate Flag during an interview on 92.3 The Fan's Kiley & Booms radio show. 

But Wahoo has plenty of supporters too. Like local t-shirt design shop GV Art & Design, which released their "Keep the Chief" tee on Friday.

On their website, the designers say , "We understand both opinions but ours is to keep the logo that has been around since the 1940's..." 

Many argue for keeping the Chief Wahoo logo because of its place in the city's history and others claim Native Americans are okay with it. 

But the Cleveland American Indian Movement calls Chief Wahoo "the most despicable symbol in professional sports " and is offering an opening day seminar on its "real history." 

The "Indians" nickname became official in 1915. Before that, the team was the Cleveland Spiders and featured a Penobscot Indian named Louis Sockalexis . His debut in 1897 came just seven years after the Massacre at Wounded Knee and made him an object of ridicule despite his success on the field.

Though disputed, many believed the team became the Indians to honor Sockalexis, the first Native American in the majors. Regardless, his tribe, the Penobscot of Maine, formally asked the Indians in 2000 to stop using the Chief Wahoo logo.

It may not be a new debate around the Great Lakes, but the team itself may have spurred the latest round when it included questions about Chief Wahoo in a year-end survey for fans .

Last October, Andrew Schnitkey wrote on WaitingForNextYear.com that he had, as a long-time supporter of the logo, changed his opinion after a group of Cleveland fans appeared on national television with their faces painted like Chief Wahoo. 

Recently, radio show host Glynn Washington described the experience of attending a Native American pow-wow and realizing he accidentally wore an Indians t-shirt that belonged to his roommate, a Ohioan. 

The Indians didn't release the results of their fan survey but one could make certain assumptions because the organization is moving away from the Wahoo logo , not just on the uniforms but at their Spring Training facility too .

Whatever the future holds, for now, Chief Wahoo doesn't appear to be going anywhere .

 

 

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