While "Chief Wahoo" is a character beloved by some baseball fans, the chief has become increasingly seen as offensive (not just among Native Americans), leading to another potential banishment, this time at the youth level.
The team logo of the Indian Valley Little League Baseball team in Kerhonkson may soon be forced to change, following a complaint that apparently led to a sweeping rule change for all little league teams worldwide.
Williamsport-PA-based Little League International, who oversees teams in all 50 states and 80 countries, made an official rule change just after the Ulster County Human Rights Commission passed along concerns from someone who was offended by the logo.
The rule, just added to the organization's rulebook, states: "Little League prohibits use of team names, mascots, nicknames or logos that are racially insensitive, derogatory or discriminatory in nature."
Ulster County Human Rights Commissioner Nina Dawson told Spectrum News on Thursday that the complaint came from one person who is not Native American and has concerns about racial sensitivity.
Dawson says the man gave a thorough presentation to the full commission, pleading for its members to see the same kind of prejudice and insensitivity that he sees in symbols like Chief Wahoo.
Dawson explained the HRC first tried to mediate between the person who filed the complaint and the Indian Valley Little League leadership, without reaching any agreement.
She says the HRC then sent a letter to Little League International, requesting action on logos and mascots such as Chief Wahoo, which prompted the rule change in the organization's 2019 rulebook.
Spectrum News reached out to Indian Valley Little League President Joe Schwartz to find out how his board will proceed under the rule change.
Schwartz and one other board member says the board will discuss how to move forward at its upcoming January board meeting.
"We are aware of updates Little League International has made recently to the language of their policy regarding certain types of mascots and logos," Schwartz wrote in an email Wednesday morning. "We as a league have always complied with Little League rules and regulations, and are proud of our service to and involvement in our local community, just as we are proud to celebrate the history and heritage of our local area, including the rich history of Native Americans here."
Indian Valley's version of Chief Wahoo is the same as the one players for Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians had donned on their uniforms and hats for 71 years, until the final game of the American League Division series back in October.
The Indians organization announced earlier in 2018 that Chief Wahoo would no longer appear on uniforms and hats beginning in the 2019 season.
In January, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told the New York Times the Indians, "ultimately agreed with [the] position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball."