Hundreds of Native American activists protested Tuesday against the racist "Chief Wahoo" logo of the Cleveland Indians as they played their first World Series game in 19 years against the Chicago Cubs.The logo on the team jerseys depicts a grinning, red-faced cartoon with a feather headband.
"What we hope to accomplish is to bring new awareness to this issue and have it resolved by eliminating the name and the logo," Philip Yenyo, the executive director of the American Indian Movement of Ohio who led the protest outside the Progressive Field baseball park, told Al Jazeera ahead of the demonstration.
"From my point of view, there's a lot of money to be made off of what I believe is the blood of a culture. They (Cleveland Indians club) also claim that they have a history, that they want to preserve. For me, I believe that their history is full of genocide."
Last week, a Canadian judge dismissed a legal challenge by prominent Canadian architect and Indigenous activist Douglas Cardinal to bar Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians from using their controversial logo and team nickname during last Monday’s playoff game against the host Toronto Blue Jays.
Yenyo, who is from Cleveland, warned that by continuing to use the logo, the Cleveland Indians are supporting a long racist history of abuse and cultural genocide of Native Americans in the country.
"I think they're offensive. I don't believe that any group of people should be used as mascots. We're human beings, we're a living culture ... our ancestors have passed down knowledge to us and our spiritual beliefs," said Yenyo.
The Cleveland Indians are not the only North American professional sports team to come under fire from Indigenous groups.
The National Football League's Washington Redskins and National Hockey League's Chicago Blackhawks have also been targets of protests and legal challenges over the years.
Yenyo said that the eagle feather the character in the logo wears “is very sacred to our people."
The symbol is as scared for Native Americans as the cross for Christians or the star of David for Jews, he told Al-Jazeera, and using it for entertainment is as insulting to his community as using any other religious images or logos or icons of a particular religion.