The "Chief Wahoo" era in Cleveland is about to come to an end.
The Cleveland Indians are planning to stop using their longtime and controversial "Chief Wahoo" logo - considered by many to be a racist depiction of Native Americans - on their uniforms and caps and throughout Progressive Field beginning in 2019 after pressure from Major League Baseball, according to David Waldstein of the New York Times.
The changes will take effect in the same year that Cleveland is scheduled to host the MLB All-Star Game.
"Major League Baseball is committed to building a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout the game," commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "Over the past year, we encouraged dialogue with the Indians organization about the club's use of Chief Wahoo. During our constructive conversations, Paul Dolan made clear that there are fans who have a longstanding attachment to the logo and its place in the history of the team.
"Nevertheless, the club ultimately agreed with my position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball, and I appreciate Mr. Dolan's acknowledgment that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course."
"We have consistently maintained that we are cognizant and sensitive to both sides of the discussion," Indians owner Paul Dolan added in his own statement. "While we recognize many of our fans have a longstanding attachment to Chief Wahoo, I'm ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred's desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019."
Waldstein reports that the franchise will retain all copyrights on the image to prevent copyright theft and ensure others will not profit off the image. This means Chief Wahoo merchandise will still be sold by the team; however, it will only have a "limited retail presence," according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.
Although the controversial logo will soon be gone, the team will continue to be named the Indians, as has been the case since 1915. A name change was never discussed, reports Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com.
The "Chief Wahoo" logo was first used by the Indians in the mid-1940s, and took on what remains its current look in 1948. Though some format of Chief Wahoo was considered the team's primary logo for over 50 years, the image was downgraded to a secondary mark in 2014, with a block "C" logo taking its place.
Chief Wahoo is still seen on the arms of Cleveland's uniforms and some of their caps, all of which will remain in place for 2018.
Protests against the team's use of both the Chief Wahoo logo and the nickname "Indians" - conducted both in Cleveland and elsewhere - have gained more prominence in recent years.
During the Indians' 2016 ALCS appearance against the Toronto Blue Jays, indigenous Canadian activist Douglas Cardinal tried to obtain a court order that would have prevented the team from using both their nickname and logo while playing road games in Toronto. The injunction was denied at the time, though in June of last year an arbitrator ruled that it could move forward.