CLEVELAND — For the first time since 1915, the Cleveland Indians will soon be known as the Cleveland Guardians. The team officially announced the name change Friday, which comes following years of protests from Native American groups.
"Our community has worked tirelessly to be recognized as diverse and vibrant, instead of being portrayed in inaccurate and harmful ways," according to a statement from the Cleveland Indigenous Coalition. "This name change will help create a place where Native American children and their families are valued and fully seen."
The group said they are pleased with the team for taking a comprehensive approach "to listen and learn and show it is possible to take steps toward change."
They're also calling on schools throughout the state to take similar action to remove their native mascots.
The team said their decision came after 1,198 name options, 40,000 surveyed fans and more than 100 hours of brainstorming sessions.
“We are excited to usher in the next era of the deep history of baseball in Cleveland,” team owner and chairman Paul Dolan said. “Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity. Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders. ‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us while drawing on the iconic Guardians of Traffic just outside the ballpark on the Hope Memorial Bridge. It brings to life the pride Clevelanders take in our city and the way we fight together for all who choose to be part of the Cleveland baseball family. While ‘Indians’ will always be a part of our history, our new name will help unify our fans and city as we are all Cleveland Guardians.”
The name change will take place at the conclusion of the 2021 season as the organization begins its transition to the Guardians, which marks the fifth name in franchise history. Here are the others:
- Blues: 1901
- Bronchos (1902)
- Naps (1903-1914)
- Indians (1915-2021)
Here’s the full statement from the CLE Indigenous Coalition as posted by the Lake Erie Native American Council’s Facebook page on Friday morning:
This momentous occasion is the culmination of over 60 years of grassroots advocacy and activism by Indigenous leadership. Today, we stand with our heads held high and full of gratitude to those who came before us in this fight.
Our community has worked tirelessly to be recognized as diverse and vibrant, instead of being portrayed in inaccurate and harmful ways. This name change will help create a place where Native American children and their families are valued and fully seen.
We are pleased the Cleveland baseball team took a comprehensive approach to listen and learn and show it is possible to take steps toward change. We now call on the nearly 200 schools in Ohio with Native mascots to follow suit.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson issued the following statement regarding the team's new name:
I want to congratulate the Cleveland Guardians on their new name and thank them for listening to the community. Cleveland has long been a sports town and baseball is a central part of our history and our future. The Guardians name has a significant meaning to Cleveland due to its connection to our iconic "Guardians of Traffic" sculptures on the Hope Memorial Bridge.