The Atlanta Braves announced in an e-mail to season ticket-holders on Sunday that the club will retain their nickname but are “working through” evaluating the tomahawk chop.
Paul Lukas, who runs the Uni Watch blog, posted a snippet of what he claimed was an e-mail from the club to season ticket-holders, with a link to the full e-mail.
“The Atlanta Braves honours, respects and values the Native American community,” the email read. “As an organization, we have always drawn strength from our diversity and respect for everyone. That will never change.”
Later, the email stated, “Through our conversations, changing the name of the Braves is not under consideration or deemed necessary. We have great respect and reverence for our name and the Native American communities that have held meaningful relationships with us do as well. We will always be the Atlanta Braves.”
Later Sunday, the team confirmed the contents of the email to ESPN.
As it pertains to the tomahawk chop, the arm gesture used by fans made popular in the 1990s, the email stated, “As it relates to the fan experience, including the chop, it is one of the many issues that we are working through with the advisory group. The chop was popularized by our fans when (former outfielder) Deion Sanders joined our team and it continues to inspire our players on the field. With that in mind, we are continuing to listen to the Native American community, as well as our fans, players, and alumni to ensure we are making an informed decision on this part of our fan experience.”
The club said it is working with the Native American community and tribal leaders, and is considering several joint initiatives, including “a permanent exhibit inside the ballpark honouring Native Americans, designing merchandise and other ways to support indigenous language, and partnering with Native American content producers to showcase the positive impacts Native American tribes and tribal leaders have had on our history and the community.”
Other professional sports organizations with nicknames and mascots that reference Native Americans have come under varying levels of fire in recent weeks, including the Cleveland Indians, Washington Redskins and Chicago Blackhawks.
Also on Sunday, multiple reports surfaced that the Redskins will announce Monday they are retiring their nickname while they evaluate potential new names.
Last week the Blackhawks announced they will keep their name and logo, saying in a statement, “The Chicago Blackhawks name and logo symbolizes an important and historic person, Black Hawk of Illinois’ Sac & Fox Nation, whose leadership and life has inspired generations of Native Americans, veterans and the public.”
Earlier this month, the Indians said in a statement, “We have had ongoing discussions organizationally on these issues. The recent unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice.
“With that in mind, we are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”