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The Indians (And Other Teams) Should Change Names. Here Are Some Suggestions

The Cleveland Indians' 2016 playoff run has reignited controversy over the team's nickname that that has many baseball fans and human rights activists crying foul.

Cleveland's defenders say that the 'Indians' nickname is part of of the team's history and that it honors indigenous people. Others argue that the moniker and the Chief Wahoo logo are offensive.

But there may be a solution that both honors the team's traditions and respects indigenous peoples. Cleveland could revive one of its older names. The club didn't call itself the Indians until 1915. From 1903-1915 they were the Cleveland Naps - an homage to star player Napoleon Lajoie.

Of course, Naps might make them seem lazy. Luckily, there are even older names to choose from. In 1901 the teams was called the Blues and in 1902 they were called the Broncos.

But would Cleveland winning the World Series by any other name feel as sweet? That's up to fans. 

But Cleveland's not the only pro-sports team that is being called on to change their nickname. Here's a look at a few other clubs and some alternate names and logos that they could use instead of their controversial names and brands. 

The Atlanta Braves

Like Cleveland, Atlanta's pro-baseball club has sparked controversy by using a term taken from native American culture. But the moniker actually has far seedier roots. The nickname is an homage to Tammany Hall -- the corrupt political machine that was featured in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York (2002). That's like a team naming itself after Watergate.

So there are at least two good reasons to change the nickname. Like Cleveland, Atlanta could revive one of their club's older monikers. Back in Boston, they went by the Redstockings, Beaneaters, Doves, Rustlers and Bees. Of those options, Atlanta Rustlers probably has the best ring to it. 

King Kelly Of The Boston Beaneaters Around 1888 (trialsanderrors / Flickr)

King Kelly Of The Boston Beaneaters Around 1888 (trialsanderrors / Flickr)

Washington Redskins

Washington, D.C.'s NFL team arguably has the most divisive nickname in professional sports. Simply put, you wouldn't be okay with a team using the N-word as its nickname. So why is it okay to use the R-word - an equally offensive racial slur?

Team owner Daniel Snyder has vowed never to change the name. But public opinion is turning against him and the team. Some football fans have even begun suggesting alternate nicknames such as Renegades, Pigskins and Redtails (a type of World War II fighter plane).

Check out this post from USA Today for the full list and proposed logos. 

Kansas City Chiefs

The NFL's Kansas City Chiefs are often overlooked when discussing nickname controversies because their moniker is actually an homage to former K.C. Mayor Harold Roe Bartle, whose nickname was chief. But the club has also incorporated aspects of indigenous culture into their brand - including their arrowhead logo and mascot named Warpaint

That's why activists like Amanda Blackhorse - who filed the trademark lawsuit against the Washington Redskins - is calling on Kansas City to change their name

But that's easier said than done. Unlike the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians, the Chiefs can't fall back on an old nickname. Before moving to Missouri in 1963, the team played in Dallas under the name Texans. And Kansas City Texans just doesn't sound right.

However, there is another alternative. Mayor Bartle was nicknamed 'Chief' because of his dedication to the Boy Scout movement. And Kansas City Scouts has a ring to it - even if it's also the name of a defunct NHL team.

Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks' logo often ranks high in the lists of best NHL logos - but maybe not for the right reasons. The team logo is contentious because it features the face of an indigenous person, which organizations such as the National Congress of American Indians consider harmful and exploitative.

But there is an alternative that would preserve much of the original logo while replacing the human face on Chicago's jerseys. In 2015, Ojibway artist Mike Ivall designed a replacement logo that uses an actual hawk instead of a person. Otherwise, the original color scheme and design remains unchanged.

Banner Image: Progressive Stadium, home of the not-so-progressively named Cleveland Indians. (Tony Hoffarth / Flickr)


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