Cleveland Indians Ban Native American Headdresses, Face Paint From Games

Ahead of Opening Day, the soon-to-be-former Cleveland Indians announced Wednesday that Native American headdresses and face paint would be banned from their 2021 home games at Progressive Field.

The team made the changes as part of their fan dress policy, which states that “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,” the Associated Press reported.

However, fans will still be allowed to wear Indians clothing that features the team’s former mascot Chief Wahoo, which the team phased out and ultimately eliminated in recent seasons.

The Kansas City Chiefs, another sports team that used Native American iconography, previously announced a similar ban on headdresses and face paint in 2020.

In December 2020, after decades of outcry from both Native American groups and baseball fans, the Cleveland franchise announced that they would finally drop the Indians team name, which had been in place since 1915. The name change won’t take effect until the 2022 season at the earliest, making 2021 potentially the “Indians”s final season.

While some Cleveland fans have lobbied for the team to become the “Tribe” — the team’s nickname — owner Paul Dolan previously stated that the new name won’t have “Native American themes or connotations to it”; oddsmakers have the Cleveland Spiders — a revival of a turn-of-the-20th century baseball team — as the current favorite.

The soon-to-be-former Indians would join the now Washington Football Team — and, before them, the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux — in changing team names and logos that were racially insensitive toward Native Americans and indigenous people.

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