The National Congress of American Indians responded to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on Wednesday concerning his comments on the Braves and their use of Native American culture.
On Tuesday, Manfred defended Atlanta's team name and its use of "The Chop", a celebration depicting someone throwing a tomahawk. Manfred said the franchise has "done a phenomenal job with the Native American community."
"Yesterday, commissioner Manfred stated that the question of whether the 'Braves' mascot and 'tomahawk chop' fan ritual are offensive to Native people is only a local issue," NCAI president Fawn Sharp said in the statement. "He similarly asserted the league does 'not market our game on a nationwide basis.' Nothing could be further from the truth."
Before Atlanta's Game 1 victory over the Astros in the World Series, Manfred made the assertion that the local Native American community supported the team and it was not a national issue.
"It’s important to understand that we have 30 markets around the country," Manfred said, per The Athletic. "They aren’t all the same. ... The Native American community in that region is wholly supportive of the Braves program, including 'The Chop.' For me, that’s kind of the end of the story. In that market, we’re taking into account the Native American community."
Sharp and the NCAI completely rejected this notion. The statement stressed that MLB is a global brand and that the Braves mascot, along with its celebration, "caricature not just one tribal community but all Native people."
"The league and team have an obligation to genuinely listen to Tribal Nations and leaders across the United States about how the team's mascot impacts them," Sharp said. "NCAI, a consensus-based congress composed of hundreds of Tribal Nations from every region of this country, has made its categorical opposition to Native 'themed' mascots abundantly clear to sports teams, schools, and the general public for more than five decades."
Sharp went on to say the NCAI has made its position clear to the Braves and asks that the team follow the example led by the Cleveland Guardians in re-naming their baseball team.
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