UniWatch: Time For An Indians’ Name Change?

Yesterday, UniWatch had their first post of submissions for their new running contest. Their goal is to find the most creative idea for name changes for two of the more ridiculed Native American-based team names in all of sports: The Cleveland Indians and The Washington Redskins. With 35 entries in all for the Cleveland baseball team alone (the first half were revealed yesterday), I thought it would be a fun practice to point out some of the best in my opinion and touch upon if now is the time for a change.

Let me start by saying that if you had asked me this question as little as two years ago, you couldn’t find someone more opposed to a name change. The Indians were named to honor Louis Sockalexis, and the tradition of something nearly 100 years old is not something I’m willing to give up at the drop of a hat. In art class in elementary school, this writer with a lack of even a single artistic bone in his body took to drawing Chief Wahoo. I love wearing Wahoo gear, and even if there’s a name change, I’m not likely to stop wearing it. I even wrote a persuasive paper in high school chronicling why the Indians shouldn’t be forced to change their name. One of my arguments was that if you were going to make my baseball team give up their name, you’d have to take out the Fighting Irish, Vikings, Cowboys, Seminoles, Redskins, Chiefs, Fighting Illini, Braves, Celtics, and Warriors. I’m 12.5% Irish. Maybe I’m offended by the Fighting Irish and Celtics mascots. It’s an all or nothing proposition for me. Remove everything that could be even possibly misconstrued as politically incorrect if you’re going to do it at all. 

Another thing I’m not a fan of is redrawing Chief Wahoo or keeping the name and ridding the team of The Chief. The C’s and the I’s are okay for secondary or tertiary logos, but not as the main one. We don’t need to have a hideously bland identity like the New York Giants. More than anything, I would have to be convinced of a new name and identity with a Cleveland history and identity, one that I wouldn’t feel is being shoved down our throats as Cleveland fans. This contest may have done just that for me.

Of the 17 entries that UniWatch showed in their first entry, six were for the name “Spiders”. The name was used from 1889-1899 in Cleveland in the National League. The team won the 1895 championship, and while most will remember the name for the worst record in MLB history in 1899 with a 20-134 mark, the name could get a second chance. It’s a fairly unique name, with the Richmond Spiders of the NCAA being the only one that comes to mind. There were also some really creative entries here that made me think, “Yea, I could roll with that.”

My favorite of the six Spider entries by Liam Burkholder:

I really like this entry for its simplicity and color scheme. For you CSU Vikings, I would think this is very eye-pleasing.

The other entry I believe is the most creative. It belongs to Daniel Irwin, who developed the idea of the “Blue Socks”, which combines elements of three past nicknames. The name references the “Blues” (1879-1884, 1887-1889, 1901), it has a Spider for the mascot, and it’s a tip of the cap to Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot Indian. On top of being grammatically correct (yes, Sox is commonly accepted but given my disdain for those two franchises that use the name, I dislike it). The Spider mascot, Napoleon (seen below), has blue socks on each of his eight legs. What a creative way to combine historical elements and provide a new identity.

The third and final entry that I’ll highlight is the Cleveland Tribe, submitted by Douglas King. For those who don’t want to get rid of the Indians’ name, this may be a softer blow. I know that I myself refer to our baseball team as “The Tribe” far more than I do “Indians”.Keeping the same established red-blue color scheme that we’re accustomed to may not be the worst decision either. Nothing about “Tribe” has to necessarily be linked to Native Americans. One definition I found online: “A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties”

The other entry names were Barons (two), Blues, Brown Sox, Rockers, Colts, Grays, Lakers, Moses, and Coasters. Do you guys have your own suggestion or like any of these better than the three I outlined? Let’s hear about in the comments section where I’m sure there will be plenty of passion both ways.


  • mgbode

    I can’t believe we are over 100 comments and this hasn’t been brought up yet.

    I would support one specific name change.  And, only that name change.

    The Cleveland Fellers (would have to buy the logo)

    Honor Bob Feller now and forever. 

  • ClevelandFrowns

    So nothing can be objectively offensive? Got it.

  • Jay

    I’m curious how many people that are calling for a name/logo change will be at The Jake this week cheering on the home team in their Indians shirts, jerseys, and hats?

    Also, if there is a name change, what would the team wear on those special occasions when they don throwbacks to the early days?


    “I did, as soon as you told me you didn’t get it.”

    First of all, I never said I “didn’t get it.” Rather, I said it read like a dickish non-sequitur that didn’t support your argument, and I stand by that. My point in that last comment–which, channeling my inner-Frowns, I can’t believe you can’t understand, duhhhh–was: why not say that originally instead of making the Samuels jab, which was (clever or not) intended first and foremost to be a personal attack at Scott rather than a witty commentary on his position?

    I read and re-read Scott’s comment to which you were replying, and I didn’t see him say anything that “preemptively and summarily dismisses any Wahoo critics as blowhards.” I read a comment that said that we, as purveyors of blogs, all need content. And, that we might sometimes use our “platform” to further a specific agenda. But, in this specific case, he had hoped it would only be a discussion about the merits and drawbacks of the specific uniform ideas presented, not a forum or referendum on who’s right and who’s wrong with respect to Wahoo, or a rendering of the Wahoo discussion as unimportant.

    What I find enlightening is how many other commenters here made your same argument–and in some cases much more cogently–but did it so much more magnanimously. What’s that old saying about catching flies with honey?

  • “the Tribe” is the easiest blow, and if the team name HAD to change, this would be my preference. I have to wonder if The Tribe is just as “offensive” as the Indians, however.

    Speaking as a designer, yiiiiiicchhh. These all look like minor league uniforms. That one spider mascot with all the socks is so ridiculous, I can only imagine to mockery that would ensure. I’m not a fan of the team name anyway (maybe because I am so illogically afraid of spiders, it’s shameful)… I doubt there’s a way to make it work.


    Doesn’t “offense” require a personal reaction, therefore making it subjective by definition?

  • Wjc

    I think we could combine Feller with a reference to the Rock Hall, and one of our most famous capitalists…. the Roc-a-Fellas? Is that taken? Maybe if we get Jay-Z to buy us/save us?

  • mgbode

    Not a bad suggestion for the Lake County team.  Too busy for the MLB side of things IMO.

  • mgbode

    no, the reason attendance is not sold-out every game is the name and the instant the name-change happened we would go back on our sellout streak.

    wait, that’s not it?  people still won’t show up?  well, there goes that 🙂

  • As much as it would sadden me, what do you guys think of putting Chief Wahoo to rest but keeping the feather. Maybe working it into the logo “Indians”, it could even work as the I. That may be a lot to ask as the scripty “I” is used as a icon as well. The more I think about it, that’d be tacky as the “I”, but I like the idea of keeping a piece of Wahoo.

    Would a feather be offensive? At least it’s a direct connection to the original mascot, without the blatant caricature of a whole race/ethnicity. I own the Indians shirt with just the single feather, and I like the bold simple look.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    I’m the only one here who responded to Scott’s comment.

    If you want to call his comment something other than the myopic regressive sneering that it is, that’s your business. I’ll just submit that I met it with all the magnaninimity that was called for.

    Also interesting: There’s an actual issue here yet all you want to talk about is my arguing techniques.  

  • ClevelandFrowns

    Try “wrong” then.


    Notice I neversaid I disagreed withyourargument. I justdisagree vehementlywiththe way you choose tomake it.You can’tgetyourpanties ina twist aboutan issue when you completely refuse toallow for *any*debate.

  • something I threw together, cuz I am a crazed designer who just can’t help herself.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    “You can’tgetyourpanties ina twist aboutan issue when you completely refuse toallow for *any*debate.”
    Completely agree, which is why Scott’s dismissive myopic regressive sneering reaction to the debate is extra loathsome.

  • something I threw together, cuz I am a crazed designer who just can’t help herself.
    (didn’t mean to post this on my other comment, sorry for the repetition)

  • BenRM

    White people problems. 

  • SpaceDawg

    Notre Dame’s logo is offensive to Irish people.

    Minnesota Viking’s logo is offensive to Scandanvian people.

    But why isn’t there an uproar about these mascots? Because the’re caricatures of white people & white cultures. The double standard is glaring to me. 

  • Mark

    Are you kidding me? You can’t be this obtuse.

  • Bookoflateralus

    My vote is for the Cleveland Dolans.  The mascot would be a T-Rex who, due to his tiny arms, couldn’t reach his wallet. 🙂

  • i looked into the because i loved that logo.

    the mlb may -not- profit from a players likeness.  that’s why you couldnt a rock-a-feller cap. 

  • Steve

     HO HO! A Dolan is cheap joke! How original and insightful!

  • Steve

     “”Indians” wasn’t meant to be derogatory”

    Yes. Yes it was. C’mon people, if you have no idea what you’re talking about, sit back and listen before opening your mouth.

  • Jsc224

    You are misinformed about “Fighting Illini”.  The term refers to the Illini who fought in World War I,  Memorial Stadium is a memorial to the Illini who lost their lives in that World War.

  • BenRM

    Nope, he’s just acute. 

  • Bob

    I am all for changing the name to The Spiders. I also didn’t think they should change the name until I saw this article. The Cleveland Whites put in in perspective for me.