Editorial – Cleveland Indians

Douglas Cardinal, prominent Canadian architect argues that the Cleveland Indians’ team name and mascot are offensive and discriminatory.

As a child, my grandmother was very proud of her Spanish heritage, a fact she told us often. It was not until I was in my late twenties that it was revealed that there was not an ounce of Spanish in my lineage. My grandmother’s grandmother was a proud West Coast Salish Native Indian.

Why my grandmother had decided to hide this fact may never be known for sure. I am sorry that she felt the need to, as I would have been proud of my heritage back then, as I am today.

This week a complaint was filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Commission in an attempt to block the Cleveland Indians baseball team from using their logo or their team name while playing the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night.

Douglas Cardinal, prominent Canadian architect argued that the Cleveland Indians’ team name and mascot – Chief Wahoo are offensive and discriminatory.

Whether you agree with it or not, the Ontario Superior Court justice ultimately turned down the request to issue the injunction blocking the Cleveland Indians from using their name and logo at Monday night’s playoff baseball game.

Over the past number of years, the Cleveland Indians’ team has been phasing out Chief Wahoo, who is a red-faced caricature, opting instead for a stylized “C” on the jerseys. This move is voluntary and understandable.

What I don’t understand is why the team name is considered offensive. This all got me to thinking about the possible reasoning behind the name “Indians” when it was chosen over 100 years ago. Without knowing, I can only surmise that the name was chosen as it depicted a strong, brave, determined and proud people. I do not think this has changed.

So, what has changed? Why do we feel the need to change a name that stands for something that is a part of our history, and our heritage?  Who is it that has started this movement to political correctness, and in doing so has decided that being called an Indian is inappropriate or derogatory? When Indian was no longer deemed politically correct, it was changed to Natives, Aboriginals, Indigenous People, First Nations. What is next? Must we go back and try to change names that are rich with history for the sake of being politcally correct? It was a different time, with different values.

If it is truly offensive to the First Nations’ people to be referred to as Indians, then we should not do so. I am not at liberty to have an opinion on this as my bloodline has been diluted over the years, but I remain extremely proud of even being a sixteenth of what these great people are.

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