The Atlanta Braves assured season ticket holders in a letter this weekend that they will not change their nickname, but they have yet to make a decision about the fan-driven “Tomahawk Chop.”
First reported by Atlanta Business Chronicle, the letter said the team has formed a “Native American Working Group” and is committed to listening to American Indian tribal leaders.
“Through our conversations, changing the name of the Braves is not under consideration or deemed necessary,” said the letter, signed by chairman Terry McGuirk and president and CEO Derek Schiller. “We have great respect and reverence for our name and the Native American communities that have held meaningful relationships with us do as well. We will always be the Atlanta Braves.”
This comes on the heels of the news that the Washington Redskins will retire the name “Redskins” and their primary logo, an image of an American Indian man, in the near future.
The Braves’ chop, also seen among the fan bases of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Florida State Seminoles, is a celebration in which fans move their forearms back and forth with an open palm. Some American Indians have said they find it demeaning to their culture.
“As it relates to the fan experience, including the chop, it is one of the many issues that we are working through with the advisory group,” the letter said. “The chop was popularized by our fans when Deion Sanders joined our team and it continues to inspire our players on the field. With that in mind, we are continuing to listen to the Native American community, as well as our fans, players, and alumni to ensure we are making an informed decision on this part of our fan experience.”
Elsewhere in Major League Baseball, the Cleveland Indians are also considering a name change.