After the Cleveland Indians announced Monday they are removing the Chief Wahoo logo from their uniforms in 2019, the Change the Mascot group is renewing pressure on the Washington Redskins to discontinue the use of its own nickname.
The Change the Mascot campaign has been a long-standing critic of the Redskins' name, but team owner Dan Snyder has resisted calls to change his team's nickname and logo.
"The Cleveland baseball team has rightly recognized that Native Americans do not deserve to be denigrated as cartoon mascots, and the team's move is a reflection of a grassroots movement that has pressed sports franchises to respect Native people," Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter, who is the leader of the campaign, said in a statement Monday.
"Cleveland's decision should finally compel the Washington football team to make the same honorable decision. For too long, people of color have been stereotyped with these kinds of hurtful symbols -- and no symbol is more hurtful than the football team in the nation's capital using a dictionary-defined racial slur as its team name. Washington Owner Dan Snyder needs to look at Cleveland's move and then look in the mirror and ask whether he wants to be forever known as the most famous purveyor of bigotry in modern sports, or if he wants to finally stand on the right side of history and change his team's name. We hope he chooses the latter."
The Supreme Court ruled last year that a trademark law barring disparaging terms infringes on free speech rights.
A Washington Post poll in 2016 found that 90 percent of Native Americans are not offended by the Redskins' nickname.
"The Washington Redskins team, our fans and community have always believed our name represents honor, respect and pride. Today's Washington Post polling shows Native Americans agree," Snyder said in a statement at the time. "We are gratified by this overwhelming support from the Native American community, and the team will proudly carry the Redskins name."
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and Indians owner Paul Dolan mutually agreed in Monday's announcement that the Indians will discontinue the use of the Chief Wahoo logo on their uniforms after the 2018 campaign. In recent years, the controversial logo has drawn criticism and lawsuits from Native American groups who consider the logo racist.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has repeatedly defended the Redskins' nickname.
Goodell is likely to be asked again about his position at a scheduled news conference Wednesday in Minneapolis as part of Super Bowl LII festivities ahead of Sunday's game between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.
--Field Level Media