ATLANTA — And then there was one.
With Friday’s announcement from Cleveland that the Indians will be changing their name to the Guardians, it leaves Major League Baseball with one team named after Native Americans.
The Atlanta Braves.
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The Braves have previously stated that they don’t intend on making a name change. Over the years, the name and imagery has been a topic in the news.
In 2019, the Braves were called out during the playoffs by a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, Ryan Helsley, who is part Cherokee. Helsley was upset about the “chop” done by fans at Braves home games, a gesture he compared at the time as an insult to the Cherokee people.
In response, the Braves decided to not distribute the foam tomahawks they often give out to fans before games. They also tried to discourage fans from doing the chop, though that was not successful.
On July 17 this year, the Braves hosted the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians at Truist Park for a home game. The Braves say they’ve partnered with the tribe for nearly two decades and have a page on the teams website to help raise money and garner attention for the North Carolina based tribe.
In the early days of the Braves organization, the team featured “Chief Noc-a-homa” at their former home in Fulton County stadium. The Braves phased him out in 1986.
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The only other major professional sports franchises with a Native American name are the Kansas City Chiefs and the Golden State Warriors. Neither team has any plans to change their names.
The Washington Football Team was called the Redskins from their launch in 1932 until the end of the 2019 season. They’ve used the name “Football Team” name since but have plans to launch a new team name soon.
There are a handful of major college athletic programs such as Florida State and the University of Utah still have some sort of name derived from a Native American term.
As for the Indians, they had announced earlier in the week there would be an announcement coming about the team changing their name. Over the past few years, they’ve gradually removed several “team logos” and taken the Indians name off of their uniforms.
The team produced a video that they posted on their social media pages to announce the name change, featuring the voice of Cleveland native Tom Hanks.
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