After 71 years as the mascot for the Cleveland Indians, Chief Wahoo is gone. Under pressure for years by those who found his likeness offensive to some American Indians, the team abandoned the Chief right along with their playoff hopes on Columbus Day.

Divisional Round - Cleveland Indians v Houston Astros - Game Two
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In a day and age when sports teams are almost constantly changing or modifying their uniforms in order to boost team gear sales, 71 years is quite a run.

I'll miss Wahoo, but then I am not Native American, nor am I someone who is offended all that easily. There have been polls on this that seem to contradict each other on the question of whether Indians are truly offended by Chief Wahoo and other Indian-themed team mascots. The National Congress of American Indians says Wahoo is offensive. I yield.

NCAA Football - Rice vs Florida State - September 23, 2006
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A friend who is Aquinnah Wampanoag once advised me that Indian-themed mascots and team names were intended to pay tribute to Native Americans, and by removing them, we run the risk of eliminating references and reminders of Indian culture in our everyday lives.

Native American history long predates the history of Europeans on this continent, and that history is underappreciated. We need to spend more time learning about the various tribes that roamed these parts before being driven to near extinction by the colonists and settlers that followed.

As for Wahoo, I sense that we have not seen the last of him. Something tells me that after a few years, the Indians organization will offer a retro throwback jersey that will sell millions, and that fans--including Native American Indians fans--will be glad to welcome him back.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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