Even in the age of Trump, there are wins. Chief Wahoo, the Cleveland Indians’ longtime mascot, is finally heading for the showers.

For decades my indigenous buddy Mark Welch trekked up from Columbus, Ohio to opening day at the Indians Major League Baseball stadium in Cleveland. He and fellow activists—indigenous and otherwise—would stand outside the gates of Progressive Field with signs demanding the team get rid of its god-awful, cringe-worthy, ridiculously offensive logo. The damn thing is a big-nosed, buck-toothed, feather-headed idiot grinning about something that made no sense.

The team hasn’t won a World Series since 1948, when it adopted a previous, even more offensive version of that logo.

But some die-hard Indian baseball fans are offended. They come to the park themselves dressed in what they call “war paint,” wearing feathers in their head-bands, and whooping like fake natives from bad westerns.

Now, the team says as of next season, he will be gone from all uniforms. But they’ll retain the trademark, and still sell Wahoo tchotchkes in their gift shop.

For decades, my friend Mark was a leader in the movement to rid sports teams of their offensive indigenous-based nicknames and images. In terms of a visual graphic, Chief Wahoo has been arguably the worst of them.

A few years ago, team management seemed to begin to get the message. They began phasing out the logo in various manifestations. For road games, an inoffensive “C” replaced the grinning visage. On hats, sleeves, and jackets, the Chief began to quietly disappear.

Now, the team says as of next season, he will be gone from all uniforms. But they’ll retain the trademark, and still sell Wahoo tchotchkes in their gift shop.

While this is a victory, there’s still a lot of work to do.

The NCAA has banned teams from post-season play with offensive names or mascots. The Stanford Indians became the Cardinals (their unofficial mascot is now a tree). The North Dakota Fighting Sioux have become the Fighting Hawks. Nationwide, high schools and colleges have followed suit.

But some questionable team names have remained.

The Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League were named after a World War I military regiment which meant to honor the indigenous chief. According to Indian Country Today, team management has taken steps to honor the indigenous community.

In a mixed vote, Florida’s Seminole tribe has backed Florida State University’s continued use of the name Seminoles. The NCAA has allowed them into post-season tournaments with that name.

And Atlanta’s major league baseball team has no tribal backing to continue as the Braves. The “tomahawk chop” gesture used by its fans is widely resented.

While Cleveland’s baseball team officially claims it adopted the “Indians” name in 1915 to honor Louis Sockalexis, the first Native American to play professional baseball, experts and scholars have largely debunked this as a myth.

Perhaps the worst offender is the National Football League’s Washington R******s. Team owner Dan Snyder says he will “never” change the name despite explicit pressure from former President Barack Obama, and the granddaughter of the team’s original owner. Indigenous activists and tribal leaders have sponsored a nationally televised two-minute ad about it, and repeatedly petitioned Snyder to find a new mascot.

While the team officially claims it adopted the “Indians” name to honor the first Native American to play professional baseball, experts and scholars have largely debunked this as a myth.

The nation’s capital provides a precedent for change. Abe Saperstein, now-deceased, changed the name of his National Basketball Association Washington Bullets team to Wizards out of disgust with gun violence. But so far Snyder will not budge. The only suggestion I’ve heard that makes sense for keeping the R******s name would be to change the logo from an Indigenous warrior to a potato.

In 1992, at the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s landing, Mark Welch and I helped organize a multi-racial protest against the celebration of Columbus Day that drew 300 people. We gathered at the replica of the Santa Maria ship that’s parked in the Scioto River, about two blocks from the Ohio state capital.

It was an upbeat affair, full of singing, drumming, and great storytelling. The legendary American Indian Movement activist, Dennis Banks, was there. Mark’s picture wound up being printed on the front page of USA Today, which he thought was pretty funny,

Mark recently passed away. But I’m sure he’s thrilled to know that Chief Wahoo has too.  

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Harvey “Sluggo” Wasserman’s America at the Brink of Rebirth will be published this year at