Poster's note: This is an excerpt from an Esquire magazine interview with Cleveland Indians mascot "Chief Wahoo" as part of a series called "What I've Learned"
Chief Wahoo is a stage name, more or less. My name is Leonard Lee. My heritage is Mohawk, but my wife — I met her at a Stones concert at the old Municipal Stadium — is from Ukrainian stock. It makes for a volatile mix, but isn't that every marriage?
Two daughters and a son. The girls live here, in town. Leonard III practices law in Chicago. I never wanted him to follow in my footsteps. He had too much going for him, and there's no future in being Chief Wahoo anyway, especially in light of corporate sensitivity to any taint of racism. My days are numbered and I know it.
The politics of it don't bother me. You want to protest, be my guest. Chant. Wave signs. Burn me in effigy. But if you want to do something real to help the indigenous Americans who suffer across this land, get your butt to Pine Ridge and go to work. Putting me out of a job isn't going to change a damn thing.
Look it up: Every time they've surveyed Native Americans, the vast majority takes no issue with nicknames or logos like the Indians'. If they don't have a problem with it, what's the problem?
1. His days ARE numbered, and it's good he knows it. I hope he's the last of the Wahoos.
I think his "vast majority takes no issue with nicknames or logos like the Indians'" is wishful thinking. That cartoon is flat-out offensive.
When you have a team like the Seminoles that's endorsed by the tribe, that's one thing. When you have a generic name like "warriors" or "chiefs" that can be mitigated if the imagery is not insulting, that's a manageable issue, too.
But when you call 'em Indians (like the opposite of Cowboys) and slap this shit on the hat, you've got problems:
I think the "Atlanta Braves" with their "tomahawk chop" are outta line, too.