KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Native Americans in the Kansas City metro say they scored a win in Cleveland.
Special interest groups have asked that team, in addition to the Chiefs, to end use of stereotypical names, chants and customs during sporting events.
Here in Chiefs Kingdom, changes may not come as quickly.
Indians baseball and roots in northern Ohio mean a lot to Raymore’s Anne Hoover. She grew up near Lake Erie and in the 1940s, her grandfather Phillip Zoellner was one of many artists who answered the team’s call for new logo designs. Zoellner’s lost out to the familiar “Chief Wahoo.”
“He created a sketch of what we call our “original Chief Wahoo,” Hoover said. “This is fun. “Chief Wahoo” is fun. This represents something. I was sad to hear the news.”
On Friday morning the Indians officially became the Guardians, ending nearly 110 years using imagery that’s considered offensive to some people.
“I think they should be represented,” Hoover said. “What better way than sports? It’s kind of like music being the universal language. Sports is such a talking point for everybody.”
Some people consider the change a step in the right direction.
Gaylene Crouser helps Native American people connect with their roots at the Kansas City Indian Center. She said the Indians did the right thing refusing to continue portraying Native Americans in a negative light.
“If people want to honor us, they should educate themselves,” Crouser said. “The best part of this is they’re getting rid of the native name and symbols and embracing something else that’s more inclusive of the entire community, which I think we should do here too.
Crouser is referring to the Kansas City Chiefs, the last NFL franchise to use Native American imagery. Her group takes part in a petition drive asking the Chiefs to make that change.
There was even a protest outside Super Bowl LV in Tampa where Native American groups campaigned to have the name dropped.
“Here, they’re painting ‘end racism’ in the end zone, while they have a team called the Chiefs, and they march out at the Super Bowl to a stereotypical song that they do that they chop to,” Crouser said. “All of that is just stereotypical nonsense.”
“Chiefs? It’s a word,” Hoover said. “We’re not taking something in that name derogatory. There’s so much of that going on in the world right now.”
Last year the Washington football team dropped the longstanding use of a Native American nickname, and here in the metro, Shawnee Mission North High School stopped use of the Indian mascot too.
FOX4 reached out to the Chiefs front office for comment but team officials had no comment.