KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals opened their 2022 season Thursday with a 3-1 victory over a division rival with a new name.
Still fans rooting on Cleveland seemed to mostly be wearing Indians attire rather than the new name, Guardians, at Kauffman Stadium Thursday.
With the official launch of the Cleveland Guardians there are just three pro sports franchises remaining with Native American names, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Atlanta Braves and of course the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It’s just kind of weird. What’s a Guardian? Are they guarding something, have they got secrets up there in Cleveland?” Royals fan David Hegwald quipped.
The franchise changed its name after focus shifted from the NFL’s Washington team changing its name, to the baseball team with a historic logo portraying Native Americans in a negative light.
“I can see the need. There’s a lot of negative connotation with the name, I mean we’re the Kansas City Chiefs. I’m surprised they aren’t wondering about that,” Larry Keffers said.
Kansas City’s Indian Center has launched a petition trying to get Kansas City to change the name of its football team.
“I joke with the guys that the Chiefs are next, but I don’t think the Chiefs name is as offensive probably as Chief Wahoo was,” Derrick Layden said outside Kauffman Stadium wearing a hat with the logo Cleveland retired in 2018 before the name change.
The Chiefs have taken steps to try to honor Native Americans. In 2020, the club announced fans could no longer wear headdresses at Arrowhead. While a new era of Guardians baseball was ushered in Thursday at the K, fans debate whether the same could ever happen across the parking lot.
“It could happen, it could happen,” Keffers said.
“I feel like Kansas City won’t let that happen, Kansas City is going to stick with the Chiefs that’s our team,” Sway Navarro said.
The Lake Erie Native American Counci issued a statement saying the new name shows it possible to listen learn and take steps toward change.
The Chiefs have pointed out they have a continuing dialogue with Native American groups.