Cleveland Indians change name to Guardians, after years of uproar

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Cleveland's Major League Baseball team is dropping its controversial century-old Indians name and rebranding the team as the Guardians -- Chief Yahoo, the mascot seen here, was seen as particularly offensive
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Cleveland's Major League Baseball team announced Friday it is renaming itself the Guardians, dropping the more than century-old moniker of the Indians, which Native Americans and other critics saw as racist.

The team made the announcement that it would dump the name it has used since 1915 in a video narrated by Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks.

It is the latest in a series of professional or university sports teams in the United States to yield to public pressure over offensive names and logos -- ditching ones such as Redskins, Savages or Redmen -- amid a national reckoning about racism and discrimination.

"It has always been Cleveland that is the best part of our name," Hanks says in the video, which describes the Ohio city as proud of its sports heritage and eager to protect it.

"And now it's time to unite as one family, one community -- to build the next era for this team and this city," he says.

"This is the city we love. And the game we believe in. And together we are all Cleveland Guardians," it says, unveiling the new team logo, with music in the background from the Black Keys, a rock band formed in nearby Akron.

The change will take effect after the 2021 season ends.

The team first announced last summer that it would talk to local community members and Native American groups about the possibility of a name change. In December, it formally said it would drop "Indians" and started a search for a new nickname.

As part of this process, more than 40,000 fans were surveyed.

The new name Guardians reflects a bit of local lore -- so-called Guardians of Traffic carved into pylons at either end of a bridge over the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland.

Native American groups welcomed the name change.

"With today's announcement, the Cleveland baseball team has taken another important step forward in healing the harms its former mascot long caused Native people, in particular Native youth," said Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians.

The most prominent name-changing case of late prior to this was the Washington team in the National Football League, which in 2020 dumped the nickname Redskins and its Indianhead logo. The team has yet to settle on a new name.

Despite the move toward jettisoning names criticized as racist, many persist in big league sports in America, such as the Braves (baseball), Seahawks (football) and Blackhawks (hockey).