Just before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, indigenous activist Douglas Cardinal filed a legal challenge in Ontario Superior Court to prevent the Cleveland Indians from wearing uniforms bearing their team name and “Chief Wahoo” logo. The logo is a red-faced cartoon with a feather headband and a huge grin. Cardinal argued that the team name and logo are racist and violate Ontario’s human rights code. He contended that the team should be referred to as “the Cleveland team” and should play in their spring training uniform, which does not have the team name or Wahoo logo on it.
Major League Baseball issued a statement: “We would welcome a thoughtful and inclusive dialogue to address these concerns outside the context of litigation. Given the demands for completing the League Championship Series in a timely manner, MLB will defend Cleveland’s right to use their name that has been in existence for more than 100 years.”
The court dismissed the case on Monday, October 17 and said it would give its reasoning at a later date.
Of note, the Indians have been phasing out, or at least phasing back, their use of the Chief Wahoo logo for years. In 2011, they removed it from the road cap. In 2013, they removed it from the home batting helmet. Earlier this year, they officially demoted the Chief Wahoo logo to secondary status. The franchise now uses the Block C as their primary mark.