The Atlanta Braves said in an email to season-ticket holders Sunday that they will not be changing their nickname but will take a further look at the future of the tomahawk chop.
The email was shared on Twitter by Paul Lukas, a journalist who runs the Uni Watch blog. He received it from a Braves season-ticket holder. The Braves confirmed the contents of the email when contacted by ESPN.
“The Atlanta Braves honors, respects and values the Native American community,” the letter says in part. “As an organization, we have always drawn strength from our diversity and respect for everyone. That will never change.
“We have had an active and supportive relationship with the Native American community for many years. Last fall, we furthered this relationship and pledged to meet and listen to Native American and tribal leaders from many areas, including the Eastern Band of the Cherokees [EBCI] in North Carolina. As a result, we formed a cultural working relationship with the EBCI and have also formed a Native American Working Group with a diverse collection of other tribal leaders to collaborate on matters related to culture, education, outreach, and recognition on an on-going basis.
“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.
“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 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 Redskins appear likely to change their name amid a nationwide movement to erase racially insensitive symbols, given the national focus on human rights and social justice after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Amazon joined Nike, Walmart, Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods among companies to remove Redskins merchandise for sale online while the team reviews its nickname.
FedEx, which has naming rights to the team’s stadium under a $205 million deal that runs until 2025, was among several sponsors to request last week that the team change its name.
The Indians released a statement saying the organization is “committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”
The Chicago Blackhawks join the Braves in saying they will continue to use their team name because it honors a Native American leader who has been an inspiration to generations.
“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,” the NHL team said in a statement Tuesday.