The controversial Chief Wahoo logo will be gone from the Indians' uniforms next season, but fans' feelings about him are still overwhelmingly positive.
In a new poll of Northeast Ohioans conducted by Baldwin Wallace University's Community Research Institute, 62 percent of respondents said Chief Wahoo "makes [them] proud of the Indians," while even more (70 percent) said the logo "represents more than the team—it represents the city of Cleveland."
A further 58 percent said they felt a "strong positive emotional connection" to the symbol, which has been with the Tribe in one form or another since 1947. 60 percent also believe Wahoo "reflects the heritage" of the club.
Chief Wahoo has been the subject of much debate for years, with critics claiming it is insensitive to Native Americans. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred agreed, and when the Indians announced in January that Wahoo would be removed from the uniforms in 2019, Manfred deemed the logo "no longer appropriate for on-field use."
Many felt Wahoo's demise was directly tied to the 2019 MLB All-Star Game, scheduled to take place at Cleveland's Progressive Field. While the team has denied those claims, 83 percent of poll respondents felt the game had at least "some influence" on the team's decision to drop the logo.
While Chief Wahoo has remained on the Tribe's uniforms, the "Block C" has been the team's official primary logo since 2014. In contrast to their positive feelings about Wahoo, only 20 percent of respondents said they felt a positive emotional connection to the Block C, while only 34 percent said it made them proud of the Indians.
56 percent also believe the "C" doesn't reflect the team's heritage, although history appears to contradict them slightly: According to Chris Creamer of SportsLogos.net, the Indians wore a Block C as their primary logo for their first 20 years of existence (1901-20), and also wore it on their caps from 1978-85 (although Wahoo was the team's primary logo).
In regard to the issue of Native American mascots in general, 48 percent did not feel such mascots or team names were disrespectful at all, while 12 percent thought Chief Wahoo was "less disrespectful" than logos and names associated with teams like the Washington Redskins, Chicago Blackhawks, and Florida State Seminoles. 29 percent felt Wahoo was either equally or more disrespectful than those mascots.
While Wahoo will be gone from the field, fans will still be allowed to wear gear bearing his image inside the stadium, and the Indians will continue to sell Wahoo merchandise at the team shop and local retailers. 64 percent of poll respondents supported that decision.
The poll was conducted over a two and a half week period during February and March of this year. Respondents were selected from Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit Counties.
The Indians begin 2018 regular season play Thursday night on the road against the Seattle Mariners.