Why are they called the Cleveland Guardians?

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The team’s name references the Guardians of Traffic, eight monolithic 1932 Art Deco sculptures by Henry Hering on the city’s Hope Memorial Bridge, which is adjacent to Progressive Field.

On December 13, 2020, the Cleveland Indians announced that the “Indians” nickname (which had been attached to the franchise for more than 100 years) would be dropped after the 2021 season. The decision by team owner Paul Dolan came after years of deliberation in light of pressure from Native American groups and other groups of fans. Dolan had resisted the change, but once the Washington football team abandoned “Redskins,” it seemed likely that Cleveland’s baseball team would change their name eventually.

The term “Indians” was an unwanted name placed on any peoples who were in North and South America when visitors from Europe arrived in those continents starting in the 15th century. This was because the white visitors believed they had reached India. Even after they were aware that they had not indeed reached India, Europeans who killed, enslaved, and uprooted native peoples from their lands never changed the terminology they used.

The “Indians” logo that featured a cartoon of a Native American “Indian” with a happy face was often criticized for perpetuating stereotypes of Native American tribal nations that had been on the North American continent for thousands of years before white people. That logo was removed from use by Major League Baseball before the 2018 season.

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is the author of three books about baseball, including Ty Cobb: A Biography. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Major League Baseball Advanced Media. He lives in Michigan where he writes, runs, and enjoys a good orange soda now and again.
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