Cleveland Indians fan in redface comes face to face with Native American protestor

You know that old phrase about a picture being worth a thousand words? It's cliche, but it's incredibly applicable here:

Context makes the photo even more startling: A group of Native American protestors showed up to the Cleveland Indians' home opener Friday at Progressive Field to denounce the team's continued use of the Chief Wahoo logo.

What you see above is both sides of the argument staring each other in the eyes.

While the Indians have taken steps to separate themselves from Wahoo, they haven't done it completely. There are movements on each side of the argument, to further eliminate Chief Wahoo or keep him around.

The protestors at the game, members of the American Indian Education Center led by executive director Robert Roche, want Wahoo gone altogether. 

"The issue is simple,'' said the 66-year-old Roche, his hair braided with white threads. ''We are not mascots. I'm nobody's mascot. My children are not mascots. It mocks us as a race of people. It mocks our religion.''

Roche and other organizers believe the protest is gaining support because of the growing national debate over sports mascots. The Washington Redskins have received harsh criticism for their nickname, and several colleges and high schools have made changes to their logos, mascots and nicknames.

''If you're looking at the average opening day fan, actually I see a little bit of a difference,'' said Sundance, a member of the Muscogee tribe, who has been protesting on opening day since 2008. ''I see that there are a lot of people who have refrained from wearing Wahoo much more than in previous opening days, but I also see that there are a lot more people who have come out with the most bigoted Wahoo that they could find.''

The argument is one we've seen more and more in sports recently, much of the controversy surrounding the NFL's Washington Redskins. This scene in Cleveland, this one captivating photo, likely won't affect Wahoo one way or another, but perhaps it will lead some folks to give pause.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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