ATLANTA – With the World Series heading to Atlanta, some viewers might be offended to see Atlanta Braves fans continue to wave and sing loudly.
After NFL teams and Major League Baseball have removed their names, considered racist and offensive by Native Americans in the past two years, the Braves persist with the rallying cry and ax swing – with the approval of the Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred.
What matters most to Manfred is that the Braves have the support of the Eastern Band tribe, the Cherokee Indians, and that they are located in North Carolina three hours from Atlanta.
“The indigenous community in the region fully supports what the Braves do, including the hand movement (known as the ‘tomahawk chop’),” Manfred said Tuesday. “For me, that’s it. In that market, we try to take the indigenous community into consideration.”
Richard Sneed, the head of the Eastern Band, would like there to be more outrage over other bigger issues facing indigenous people, such as poverty, unemployment, child abuse, sexual abuse and suicides.
“It doesn’t offend me when someone waves their hand in support of a sport,” Sneed told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “I just am not. If someone is, it is their decision, their right. They may be offended.”
Sneed noted that problems with crime and poverty continue to be ignored when the country’s attention has been on team names and the tomahawk chop.
“There is so much going on and the part that is frustrating for me, as the leader of the tribe, is when the only issue they seem to be discussing is ‘how offended you are by the gesture and if the Braves should change their name.’ It really is. the least of our problems, I think that’s what I mean, “he said.
There is no indication that the Braves have plans to change their name or discourage the ‘tomahawk chop’, which has been a fan tradition since the 1990s. Credit for the battle cry has been given to Deion Sanders, former Braves outfielder, because it was something he brought from his college experience with Florida State.
Temporarily, the Braves tried to downplay the gesture in the 2019 NL Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals reliever. Ryan helsley, a member of the Cherokee nation, and who said he found it offensive.
Following Helsley’s complaint, the Braves stopped distributing the giant red foam axes used by fans during the move. They also stopped playing the accompanying music to encourage singing.
Then came the coronavirus pandemic and with the stadiums empty, the attention was dissipated.
Now the fans are back and the ‘tomahawks chop’ is revived, with the drums, the music in the stadium and the images of the ax on video.
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Braves bring tomahawk chop to World Series