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Cleveland Public Theatre Supports The Cleveland Indigenous Coalition

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Cleveland Public Theatre Supports The Cleveland Indigenous Coalition

The Cleveland Indigenous Coalition has announced support from over 50 local organizations and businesses calling on Cleveland City Council, Progressive Insurance, and Cleveland baseball sponsors to actively engage with the Cleveland baseball team to change their name and end the use of all Indigenous themes and imagery. Supporters also believe the team needs to immediately engage with the Cleveland Native American community who, for the last six decades, have fought to remove both the Cleveland Indians name and Chief Wahoo logo.

Philip Yenyo, M?"xihcah and Executive Director of the American Indian Movement of Ohio praised the support of these allies, "Over the 60-year history of this movement against these nicknames and logos, we've had many organizations pass resolutions against their use. Now, as we move forward, we have organizations supporting our community and our coalition. This is truly historic for us all. We thank them for standing up for what is right."

Chris Begay, Diné, and Chair of the Committee of 500 Years of Dignity and Resistance added, "As we have called on the City of Cleveland to change the name of the baseball team, we have been strengthened by an outpouring of support from national and local organizations, businesses, and individuals who also feel the same. In an effort to amplify voices of our community, we seek to restore dignity and respect to all Indigenous people through this partnership with the Cleveland Indigenous Coalition and all of our supporters to change the name."

Some of the initial supporting organizations include the YWCA of Greater Cleveland; ACLU of Ohio; NAACP Cleveland Chapter; Black Lives Matter Cleveland; the Social Justice Institute and the Center for Reducing Health Disparities at Case Western Reserve University; Greater Cleveland Board of Rabbis; the Young Latino Network; the InterReligious Task Force; Mitchell's Ice Cream; Cleveland Neighborhood Progress; five Cleveland Community Development Corporations; and Cleveland Public Theatre.

According to Cleveland Public Theatre Executive Artistic Director Raymond Bobgan, "Cleveland Public Theatre stands in solidarity with our Indigenous neighbors, coworkers, classmates, and community members. We acknowledge the harm Cleveland and our baseball team name have done to Indigenous people, especially with the use of the Chief Wahoo logo. We hope that in this time of awakening and of activism, this symbol of oppression will be fully ended by the team and that it will be banned from stadiums."

Marlys Rambeau, Cheyenne River Sioux, and Chairwoman of the Lake Erie Native American Council said, "So many of our original warriors in this fight have walked on; that is how long we have been trying to get this name changed. With the growing support of these organizations and businesses, we can see the time for change is now. And that change must happen before another generation of our community's children have to endure what their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents did at the hands of the fans, the team name and images."

With scientific research clearly demonstrating that Native American team names and logos contribute to low self-esteem, low community worth, increased stress and depression in Native American youth, several large scientific organizations like the American Psychological Association have already called for the elimination of Native American sports nicknames and logos; as well as over one hundred Native American tribes, and dozens of nationally-based Native American organizations.

Crystal Echo Hawk, founder and CEO of the national Native-led organization IllumiNative, joined the Cleveland Indigenous Coalition's call to change the name. She said, "We are encouraged by the actions taken by the Cleveland organization to conduct a review of their name and decide how to proceed. However, it's imperative this review, and the team itself, meets, listens, and seeks guidance from Native leaders of the Cleveland community who have been fighting for this name change, and from Native subject matter experts on the impact of Native mascots. Any actions taken without their involvement will only continue to silence Native voices. The time is now for the Cleveland team to stand on the right side of history and ensure a true process of reconciliation with Native peoples."

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