CLEVELAND, Ohio — When news broke that the Cleveland Indians will discuss the possibility of changing the team's name, it launched a debate among fans and critics of the mascot.

What You Need To Know

  • Jeff Pierce is the executive director of People Not Mascots and also represents the Cleveland American Indian Movement that has filed a federal lawsuit against the team

  • The lawsuit claims the name is racist

  • The Native American Guardian's Association supports keeping the name

Jeff Pierce has spent many summer days outside Progressive Field not watching baseball.

"I don’t understand how you can name a team after a group of people. You don’t have the Cleveland Caucasians, you don’t have the Cleveland Africans,” said Pierce. "I think with everything going on right now in this country right now, it’s really widened people’s perceptions because I don’t think they believed us when we said that subtle racism is still racism.”

Changing the Indians name has been a goal for some activist groups for years. However, some groups would like to see the name stay.

"Obviously, sports teams choose their nickname for something that is positive that they want to be associated with," said Tony Henson. "Generally, Indians are considered to be a warrior, strength, and all of the admirable qualities that you would want to have."

Henson is with the Native American Guardian’s Association, an advocacy group that supports teams keeping Native American-themed names. Henson, who’s part Cherokee, believes the name "Indians" can provide a chance to educate people about Native American culture and history. 

"We see positive Native American imagery and sports as a powerful way to remain visible and relevant in mainstream America. And also, we feel like there’s great opportunities for partnerships, especially between sports teams and also educational institutions that have a native theme.