The Cleveland Indians announced Monday that they will change the team’s century-old name to a “new, non-Native American” moniker.
It’s not yet clear what the new name will be. The team said the change will “unify our community and bring people together.”
The American League club’s new name will become effective after the 2021 season.
“We’ll be the Indians in 2021 and then after that, it’s a difficult and complex process to identify a new name and do all the things you do around activating that name,” team owner Paul Dolan told The Associated Press. “We are going to work at as quick a pace as we can while doing it right.”
In July, the team announced that it would “determine the best path forward” for its name.
“As a result of that process, we have decided to move forward with changing the current team name and determining a new non-Native American based name for the franchise,” the team said in a statement. “We believe our organization is at its best when we can unify our community and bring people together — and we believe a new name will allow us to do this more fully.”
Washington’s NFL team has previously said it would review its name, a racial slur that has long been criticized. The team went on to make the change and is playing under the name Washington Football Team.
Dolan said the Cleveland franchise opted not to go with that kind of stopgap moniker.
“We don’t want to be the Cleveland Baseball Team or some other interim name,” he said. “We will continue to be the Indians until we have identified the next name that will hopefully take us through multiple centuries.”
President Donald Trump said early Monday on Twitter that the reported name change was “not good news” and called it “cancel culture at work.”
In 2018, Cleveland announced that it would drop its Chief Wahoo logo, a racist caricature, from its caps and jerseys for the 2019 season. Native American groups had long protested the image, calling it offensive.
The team pledged to look at its name in July as calls for racial justice grew after George Floyd’s death and the widespread protests that followed. In that statement, the team said that it was “committed to making a positive impact in our community” and that it had had “ongoing discussions” about the issue.
At the time, Trump also tweeted his objections, saying, “They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness.”
The Oneida Nation of New York, which led the Change the Mascot Movement, thanked the franchise and said the action will have a meaningful impact.
“This is a truly wonderful statement and explains so much of why it has taken so long to resolve this issue. Cleveland spent the time to talk to the organizations impacted and came away understanding it was time to change,” it said in a series of tweets Monday.
“This is a critical point — changing the team’s name is not a matter of political correctness — social science is clear that our children are being negatively impacted.”
The name of Cleveland’s team has been in use since 1915.
For years, it had been accepted that the franchise was named in honor of 19th century Cleveland Spiders star Louis Sockalexis, who was Native American.