‘We acknowledge the name change will be difficult for some of us, and the transition will take time,’ says owner of Cleveland Guardians
These comments from the former president come after the Major League Baseball team declared they will no longer compete under the the Cleveland Indians, a name they have played as since 1915. A video narrated by the actor Tom Hanks announced the news.
“Can anybody believe that the Cleveland Indians, a storied and cherished baseball franchise since taking the name in 1915, are changing their name to the Guardians? Such a disgrace,” said Mr Trump in a statement on 23 July.
Paul Dolan, the owner of the club, said the inspiration for a new moniker came from last year’s protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd.
“We acknowledge the name change will be difficult for some of us, and the transition will take time,” he said in a statement. “It is our hope and belief this change will divert us from a divisive path and instead steer us towards a future where our fans, city, and region are all united as Cleveland Guardians.”
Mr Trump argued that it was more insulting to Native Americans to change the name than to retain it.
“I guarantee that the people who are the most angry about it are the many Indians of our Country. Wouldn’t it be an honour to have a team named the Cleveland Indians, and wouldn’t it be disrespectful to rip that name and logo off of those jerseys?”
Mr Trump’s view is not shared by Deb Haaland, the US interior secretary and the first Indigenous person to serve in the US Cabinet.
“I am glad to see that the Cleveland baseball team is finally changing its name. The long practice of using Native American mascots and imagery in sports team has been harmful to Indigenous communities,” she wrote on Twitter.
Cleveland’s change was also welcomed by Native American campaigners, who said it was a symbolic victory.
“It is a major step towards righting the wrongs committed against Native peoples, and is one step towards justice,” said Crystal Echo Hawk, founder and executive director of IllumiNative, a group that educates and rallies for justice for Indigenous people in the US.
In 2018, the Cleveland team removed the “Chief Wahoo” crest from their kit. They announced their intention to change their name last year, along with the NFL team Washington Football team, who previously were known as the Redskins. The new name origins come from their home city’s Art Deco monuments, The Guardians of Traffic, that sit on the Hope Memorial Bridge.