Though the Atlanta Braves say they will keep the Braves name at a time when sports names based on Native American symbols are under reconsideration, it looks like the team will make some adjustments to the branding–with the Tomahawk Chop chant and imagery seemingly on the way out.
With the Washington Redskins name and branding on the way out and the Cleveland Indians set to review that team’s name and rebranding, the Braves name would seem to be next to be reviewed. And while the team name may stay, some of the team’s practices and branding look to be on their way out, per Jeff Schultz via Twitter:
Quasi update on “The Chop”: This wood sculpture outside the Braves’ stadium near the third base entrance has been removed. I asked the Braves about it but they have chosen not to respond to requests for comment. @TheAthleticATL @TheAthleticMLB pic.twitter.com/ZdqKUP91um
— Jeff Schultz (@JeffSchultzATL) July 19, 2020
In a letter to season-ticket holders, Braves management pledged a higher level of sensitivity to these branding issues:
“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 Braves brand has a direct connection with the Washington Redskins name, set to be retired before the 2020 NFL season. At one point the Boston Braves played at Braves Field in 1932 as a tenant of the then-Boston Braves, with the NFL team owned by George Preston Marshall. The team did poorly in 1932 and then made plans to move to the cheaper Fenway Park, but lost an agreement to use the Boston Braves name in the process. The new name: the Boston Redskins. That name stuck, and when the team was moved to D.C.’s Griffith Stadium in 1937, the Washington Redskins were born.