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Las Vegas residents react to mascot changes across the country, valley

Clevelands Indians sign
Posted at 5:39 PM, Jul 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-23 20:49:24-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Another mascot change in a professional sport. This time it’s Major League Baseball with Cleveland rebranding itself. It comes after years of pressure from Native Americans to change racially insensitive names. It’s no different here in our valley.

There’s no getting away from Cleveland sports at Tap House Bar and Grill. Owner Bob Harry loving all the teams.

“I’m a Cleveland fan. Browns, Cleveland Cavs.”

And also the baseball team, but they won’t be called the Indians anymore, but the Guardians.

“I was stunned by it. I wasn’t ready for it.”

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There will be some getting used to calling his beloved team the Guardians. It comes as team names and mascots around the country are being re-examined, especially revolving around Native Americans. UNLV instructor Neil Dodge, who is Dine or Navajo, says it’s a positive step towards showing Native Americans as human beings.

“What I think a lot of it centers on is pushing back against this narrative of Indigenous people as being simple or being savages.”

That push is also being seen at the state level after AB 88 was signed into law, banning names that are racially discriminatory or associated with tribes. The Anti-Defamation League already applauding the move by the baseball team. UNLV removed the “Hey Reb” statue after complaints from Native American students. Dodge says the trend is showing Native Americans have a voice.

“It’s a way to add them to the American story.”

Dodge says the mascot changes are not about taking the fun away from school or team spirit. He says a provision in AB 88 allows the use of tribal imagery with permission from that same tribe to ensure their culture is presented respectfully.

“It requires people to go into the communities and say hey, is this okay? Can we do this? I feel this creates a like a bridge,” he said.

Harry says he’s happy his baseball team is staying in Cleveland and just changing its name. He’ll support them regardless and is in favor of whatever can help bring people together.

“The younger generation understands it better than I do and I’m willing to go along with that,” he said.

AB 88 will take effect next year. Harry says he plans to buy some Guardians merchandise and update some of the Indians' references in his bar.