Sunday, October 30, 2016

You're Offended? I'M Offended!!

As I write this, the Cleveland Indians are in the midst of the World Series with the Chicago Cubs. It's an exciting time in baseball for both clubs.


Me? I'm very excited. I love baseball. I'm not much for playing the game; I enjoy watching it. To be honest, I'm not much of a “gamer" in any sense of the word. I once was asked to join a company softball league. I declined by telling them, “Softball is seven innings long. My attention span is an inning and a half.” But to watch the game? Nothing like it. My motto is that football (or basketball) is what you watch when there is no baseball. And baby, we got baseball!

Of course, along with the excitement come the haters. Now, one topic of hatred is the official mascot of the Cleveland Indians: Chief Wahoo. Usually, the only time you hear the gripes are at the beginning of the season, and at the end (and only IF Cleveland is doing well). This year is no exception. And with Cleveland playing in the post-game season, the whiners are in full whine.

I saw one article that said it's okay to root for Cleveland, but if you are an Indians fan, you are racist. Why? Because Chief Wahoo is a racist mascot. I'm not sure if the writer was an American Indian (or a Native American, or of the Indigenous People – whatever they are being called today), but regardless, he, like the rest of the haters, is an idiot.

(Note: For the rest of this article, I'm going to use the descriptor “Indian" when referring to said “Indigenous People".)

Let's start out by stating that the city of Cleveland sits on Lake Erie (lovingly known as the “North Coast"). Erie is named for the Erie Indian tribe and it means “wildcat".

The city also has a river that divides the east side from the west side, called the Cuyahoga River. Many of you may recognize it as the river that caught fire. True. But with our Cavaliers basketball team, and Indians baseball team, the city itself is truly “on fire". (As of this writing, the Browns have a perfect record in football; just happens to be a no-win perfect record . . . )

Another important aspect of the Cuyahoga River is its name. Cuyahoga is an Indian word meaning “winding stream". Cuyahoga is also the name of the county the city of Cleveland (and my home town, for that matter) resides.

Here are a few other Ohio counties:

Ashtabula – “Fish River" in the local Indian dialect
Auglaize – “Fallen timbers" in Shawnee
Coshocton – “Black bear town" – an anglicized version of “Goschaching" or “Goschachgunk"
Cuyahoga – (previously mentioned)
Delaware – named for the Delaware Indians
Erie – (previously mentioned)
Geauga – “Raccoon"
Hocking – “A bottle" – the Hocking River was once claimed by the Wyandot Indians
Huron – the name was given to the Wyandot Indian tribe who lived there by the French
Mahoning – “Lick" or “At the lick" from the Indian words “Mahoni" or “Mahonink"
Miami – for the Miami Indians
Muskingum – “A town by the river" – a Delaware Indian word
Ottawa – “Trader" – from the Ottawa Indian tribe
Pickaway – a misspelling of the Piqua (Shawnee) Indians
Portage – from the old Indian portage path between Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas rivers
Sandusky – “Cold water" – in Wyandot and Huron languages it means “water within water pools"
Scioto – “Deer"
Seneca – for the Seneca Indians
Tuscarawas – “Open mouth"
Wyandot – for the Wyandot Indians


For those counting, that is 20 out of the 88 counties in Ohio. (The above list came from www.livingplaces.com – interesting site.)

Even the name of the state, “Ohio", meaning “great river" is a name originated from the Iroquois.

Let's shift gears. The following comes with help from the Cleveland Historical Society. Please read the article by Cathy Priest and Jodi Rzeszotarski for more details.

Tehotiokwawakon, a.k.a. “Oghema Niagara”, a.k.a. “Chief Thunderwater", a.k.a. “Henry Palmer" was born to the Algonquin nation in 1865. Early in his life Cleveland became his home, where he lived a full and active life (again, see the details of the article) before passing away at the age of 85 (1950).

“In 1948, as the Cleveland tribesmen were about to face the Braves from Boston in baseball's World Series, Chief Thunderwater, in full regalia, offered his benediction: 'May the best warriors win, as long as they are Cleveland's.' And they did.”


Now, the origin of Chief Wahoo can be found as far back as 1932, as a cartoon by Fred George Reinhart in the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. This was to represent the Cleveland Indians winning an important victory. Originally, Chief Wahoo was known as “The Little Indian". In 1947, Walter Goldbach, working as a draftsman, was tasked with creating a mascot that “would convey a spirit of pure joy and unbridled enthusiasm". The name “Chief Wahoo" was derived from sports writers of the time, though Goldbach stated that he wasn't a chief, but a brave – only having one feather.


The logo has gone through many style changes throughout the years. And regardless of the style, one thing has remained the same: the mascot was always displayed with pride and love. It is a mascot, like the baseball team it represents, that gives honor to those for whom much of our state is named.

So, before you go about trying to change Chief Wahoo and/or the Cleveland Indians, you might want to think twice. For to change the mascot would be the same as changing every Indian name of every county – and even the state – lest they be deemed racist.

And, as I watch my Cleveland Indians play in the 2016 World Series, I too am filled with “a spirit of pure joy and unbridled enthusiasm". Play ball!!


©Emittravel 2016

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