CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Indians announced new restrictions inside of Progressive Field this season. Fans can no longer wear headdresses or face paint that mimics or mocks Native American culture.
The Cleveland Indigenous Coalition says its been in direct contact with the team and that they’re encouraged by this policy change.
“It’s not something that you can just go and put on like you put on makeup,” said Jess Vallejo of the Coalition, which consists of four Native American organizations.
The Coalition said in a statement to 19 News Wednesday:
“The Cleveland Indigenous Coalition continues to work closely with the Cleveland MLB team during this period of transition, and we are encouraged by the team’s cooperation in listening to our recommendations and input. The donning of headdresses and stereotypical Native American-style face paint reflects and reinforces harmful stereotypes, which hurt our community – especially our Native youth. By enforcing the removal of Native American headdresses and Native American-style face paint for the 2021 season, the team is creating a more inclusive experience for all fans.”
“In order to remove the name, remove the logo and the offensiveness was going to have to also involve changing the fan behavior,” Vallejo added.
But Jim Stamper, a long time fan of the Tribe says he’s noticed that not many people have worn headdresses or face paint in recent years.
“Didn’t see a lot of that in the last couple of years. You know I never see any taunting at all in the ball park,” said Stamper.
Vallejo says it’s not just about changing names, policy or behavior, but educating people on the history. She says the progression at Progressive Field brings hope to the Native American community.
“Take this as an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and change that behavior. It’s never been okay to play Indian,” said Vallejo.
Fans are also not allowed to wear gaiters, sheer masks, bandanas or masks with valves at Progressive.