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Cleveland bans Native American headdresses and face paint for home games at Progressive Field

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Ahead of their regular season opener on Wednesday, Cleveland Indians announced that the team will not permit fans to enter the ballpark with Native American headdresses or face paint. This is the latest development in the franchise distancing itself from the name and imagery that have been hallmarks of the ballclub since 1915.

As the Associated Press notes, this policy falls under the category of disorderly, unruly or disruptive conduct which includes “headdresses and face paint styled in a way that references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions. Inappropriate or offensive images, words, dress or face paint must be covered or removed, and failure to do so may constitute grounds for ejection or refusal of admission.” Fans can be ejected or denied entrance for not following through as a result.

Not included under this umbrella is imagery of Chief Wahoo, the cartoon mascot in redface that was a staple of the franchise for decades, but has been removed from game jerseys and caps over the last couple years. However, the team still sells merchandise with that logo that some activists have called a racist caricature.

Cleveland owner Paul Dolan confirmed in December that the team officially decided to change the name it’s held for over 100 years, and will adopt a new nickname after the 2021 season. 

The franchise became the latest in American sports to take steps away from associating with Native American imagery. In the NFL, Washington became the Washington Football Team after pressure from activists caused the team to move away from its previous name that was a racial slur against Native Americans. The Kansas City Chiefs started banning headdresses at Arrowhead Stadium last year. Also in baseball, the Braves pledged in 2019 to limit the use of the chop celebration.




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