CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians announced on Friday it will officially rename the club to be the Cleveland Guardians.
The club made the announcement via its Twitter page early Friday morning. The new team name will go into effect after the 2021 season.
The team will hold a 2 p.m. news conference.
The ballclub, which has been known as the Indians since 1915, has received criticism from some Native American advocates for having an insensitive nickname. The Indians previously phased out its “Chief Wahoo” logo, fully retiring the emblem in 2018.
Amid nationwide protests against racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s death, the Indians released a statement last year saying that it was reexamining the club nickname. The statement did not include a commitment to renaming the club, but that the team would contact stakeholders in an effort to “keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice.”
“We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality,” the Indians wrote in a statement in July 2020. “Our organization fully recognizes our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community.”
The statement came as the NFL club previously known as the Washington Redskins said it would temporarily be renamed the “Washington Football Team.” The organization renamed the franchise amid pressure from corporate sponsors and partners.
In December 2020, the Indians released a statement saying it was “in the process” of changing the team name.
“Hearing firsthand the stories and experiences of Native American people, we gained a deep understanding of how tribal communities feel about the team name and the detrimental effects it has on them,” said team owner Paul Dolan. “We also spoke to local civic leaders who represent diverse populations in our city and who highlighted the negative impact our team name has had on our broader population and on under-represented groups across our community. I am truly grateful for their engagement and input, which I found enlightening and insightful.”
Last month, the club said that after reaching out to stakeholders and members of the Native American community, it had developed a list of 1,198 names.
Team nicknames like the Indians and logos like Chief Wahoo have long been criticized by advocates for the Native American community. The retirement of the Chief Wahoo logo garnered support from the National Congress of American Indians.
“Today’s announcement marks an important turning point for Indian Country and the harmful legacy of Indian mascots,” said NCAI President Jefferson Keel. “These mascots reduce all Native people into a single outdated stereotype that harms the way Native people, especially youth, view themselves. Today’s news is a big step in the right direction, but much work remains, and NCAI will press on with this struggle until every single one of these harmful mascots is gone from the sports landscape.”