15 April 2019 - American Indian Movement to Protest Cleveland vs Atlanta


April 15, 2019

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Cleveland American Indian Movement, the second oldest urban AIM chapter nationally, announced today it will demonstrate outside "Progressive" Field during Cleveland Indians vs Atlanta Braves game Friday April 19, in protest of the continued use of American Indian symbols and team names in Major League Baseball. Cleveland American Indian Movement and its supporters have demonstrated outside Cleveland baseball stadiums at every Cleveland Indians Opening Day since 1970. Remarking on their long, half-century of protest Sundance (Muskogee), their Executive Director, states "It shows just how little power indigenous people have in the face of corporate racism. Yet it also shows how determined we are to see the names, logos and behaviors change." Indeed, Cleveland AIM sued the Cleveland Baseball franchise in 1972 claiming that the "Indians" name and "Wahoo" logo amounted to slander and libel; that lawsuit was finally settled after more than a decade. Other lawsuits were to follow in the 1990s, including a 1999 filing before the Ohio Commission on Civil Rights.

In the last few years, through their network of activists, Cleveland AIM has been able to bring the exploitation of indigenous people as sports mascots to international attention. In November 2018, Major League Baseball announced that it had struck a gentleman's agreement with Cleveland Baseball, stating that Wahoo is "no longer appropriate" for on-field use. Yet Wahoo continues to be licensed for off-field use. "The racist behavior that fans display at Cleveland Baseball is not a product of Wahoo, Wahoo is a product of the racism at the stadium," said Sundance. "The continued use of 'Indians' and 'Braves' team names, which enables this racist behavior, shows quite clearly that a dollar spent on Major League Baseball is a dollar that supports racism." Friday's demonstration should be replete with Indian-head logos and "tomahawk chops", fans dressed in red-face, headdresses, and war-whoops.

When asked about the expected atmosphere at Friday's demonstration, Devon Shults (Muskogee), 14, said "Usually we are supported by some home-team fans and also by fans of the opposing team, so I think Friday will be really hostile because both teams are 'playing Indian'."

Jeff Pierce (Apache), spokesperson for Cleveland American Indian Movement, said "Look, we are people, not mascots. Major League Baseball is allowing teams to exploit us for its bottom line." Sundance concurs, "If it is not appropriate at the collegiate level to have these exploitative team names and racist logos, why is it acceptable in professional sports?"

Protestors will meet outside Gate C (East 9th Street and Bolivar Street) at 5pm, Friday April 19, 2019. Spokespersons will be on hand to answer questions.




Sundance, Executive Director
Cleveland American Indian Movement
+1 (216) 533-7423

Jeff Pierce, Spokesperson
Cleveland American Indian Movement
+1 (440) 954-0367