Rob Manfred defends the Braves name, the use of tomahawk chops; Native American group responds


The Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros kicked off the 2021 World Series on Tuesday night. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was at Minute Maid Park for Game 1 and, prior to the game, defended the Atlanta franchise’s continued use of the “Braves” name and imagery. . Manfred was answering questions about whether the league would pressure them to change their identities, as other teams with Native American nicknames have done in recent years (including the soon-to-be-known Cleveland franchise. under the name Guardians instead of Indians).

“The Native American community in this region fully supports the Braves program, including the chop,” said Manfred, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. “For me, that’s kind of the end of the story. In this market, we take the Native American community into account.… In Atlanta, they did a great job with Native Americans. The Native American community is the largest group. important in deciding whether this is appropriate or not. “

The “chop” is the gesture that Braves fans make throughout games that mimics the use of a tomahawk. The move was criticized by Native Americans, including St. Louis Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley, who reasons that he portrays Native Americans as caricatures. “It kind of devalues ​​our Cherokee heritage and Native American history,” Helsley said during the 2019 playoffs. “We Cherokee natives have been through a lot in this country.” (The Braves responded by discouraging fans from making the chop every time he pitched during this series.)

Here’s a video of Manfred speaking to reporters on the ground in Houston:

Manfred’s point that Native Americans in the area support the name and the chop should be taken a closer look. As baseball scribe Craig Calcaterra noted in his newsletter, the Braves often point to their support for the eastern band of the Cherokee Indians as irrefutable proof that all Native Americans agree with their identity. What tends to go unnoticed is that the Eastern Band is technically a business partner of the Braves, as their casino serves as the team’s corporate sponsor. (And even the Eastern Band has criticized the franchise’s use of “stereotypical war music.”. “)

On Wednesday, the National Congress of American Indians released a statement, as shared by Evan Drellich of The Athletic. In the statement, the NCAI criticized Manfred’s comments and asked FOX to decline to broadcast fans performing the chop. Here is the full statement:

There is no inherent reason why the name or the chop des Braves should be considered sacrosanct properties. The nickname “Braves” has been in use since 1941, but the franchise also carries names like “Bees” and “Doves”. (Our Dayn Perry estimated in January that Atlanta should change its name to “Hammers” in homage to the late Hank Aaron.) The chop, meanwhile, is a relatively new addition to the franchise’s identity, having gained in popularity. popularity during the 1991 season, by the New York Times.

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