Atlanta Braves to Keep Name, Debating Tomahawk Chop

Braves
Getty Images/Peter G. Aiken

Unlike the Washington Redskins, the Atlanta Braves will not consider changing their team name. Though, the organization is discussing whether to keep the traditional “Tomahawk Chop.”

“The Atlanta Braves honor, support and value the Native American community. That will never change,” the Braves said in a statement.

However, as the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports, the team is not yet decided about whether to keep the “Tomahawk Chop.”

The issue of the “Tomahawk Chop” resurfaced last year after St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley, a member of the Cherokee Nation, blasted the chant for depicting natives as “this kind of caveman-type people way who aren’t intellectual.”

After Helsley’s criticisms, the Braves did not pass out foam tomahawks, play the chant music, or show the tomahawk graphic.
The Cherokee Nation, one of the tribes which inhabited Georgia, celebrated Helsley for taking a stand against the Braves long-standing tradition.

“The Cherokee Nation is proud of tribal citizen and Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. wrote in a statement, “for speaking out against stereotypes and standing up for the dignity of Native Americans in this country.

The Braves recently met with the National Congress of American Indians. NCAI CEO Kevin Alis said he believes the conversations left him “encouraged.”

“NCAI is extremely encouraged by the efforts of athletic teams at the major league, college, and high school level that understand the harm to American Indians and their communities caused by mascots and team names,” Allis explained. “Such imagery creates misperceptions and unfair stereotypes of the American Indian, tramples on sacred customs and traditions, and results in American Indians not being viewed as equals in our society. Painful disrespect is often seen when fans don themselves in ceremonial regalia, war paint, and shout made up chants with little or no understanding of the importance and stature of such within the American Indian communities across the country.

“We welcome and applaud the efforts to address this important issue by the Cleveland baseball team, and all other organizations in similar situations.”

The Cleveland Indians are also considering what to do about their name. In the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs, who oddly have not faced the same type of pressure to change their name that the Redskins, Indians, and Braves have faced, also do a chop at their games.

Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn

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