Braves name and tomahawk chop draw national attention during World Series

April 9, 2021 Atlanta - Atlanta Braves fans perform the "Tomahawk Chop" during Atlanta Braves homeopener game at Truist Park on Friday, April 9, 2021. Atlanta Braves won 8-1 over Philadelphia Phillies. (Hyosub Shin /



April 9, 2021 Atlanta - Atlanta Braves fans perform the "Tomahawk Chop" during Atlanta Braves homeopener game at Truist Park on Friday, April 9, 2021. Atlanta Braves won 8-1 over Philadelphia Phillies. (Hyosub Shin /

When Houston Astros fans want to rally their team, they wave orange towels. In Atlanta, Braves fans do the same with the tomahawk chop and chant.

The Braves name and the chop are established firmly in Atlanta, but some national fans who are seeing them in the World Series may have questions. After all, the Washington football team and the Cleveland baseball team have recently dropped their names after concerns were raised on behalf of Native Americans.

The Braves famously canceled distribution of foam tomahawks to fans in what turned out to be a decisive – and losing — playoff game in October 2019 against the St. Louis Cardinals. The decision came after Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley, a member of the Cherokee Nation, said he found it disrespectful.

When fans returned after the 2020 COVID-affected season (no fans were allowed in the stands that season), the Braves brought back the tomahawk chop, encouraging fans to chant and chop in what was described as a more “organic,” fan-driven tradition. Bill Torpy, the metro columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wrote at the time, “The tomahawk chop lives on. But you kind of knew it wasn’t going anywhere.”

The chop and chant, first used during the Braves’ 1991 “worst to first” season, originated at Florida State, whose team is the Seminoles. The Braves won the National League championship in 1991 after a losing season in 1990.

In addition to the chop, two other issues — the Braves name and Georgia’s new voting laws — have seen new attention during the National League playoffs and the Braves’ arrival in the World Series. Atlanta’s Truist Park will host 3 games against the Astros starting Friday.

The Braves were set to host the MLB All-Star Game in July until the Georgia Legislature approved election law changes that some have said will limit voter participation. In April, eight days after Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred made the decision to move the All-Star game. It was played instead in Denver.

Kemp, who has been openly critical of the decision to move the game, raised it anew when the Braves clinched a spot in the World Series. taking aim at Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams and the MLB, saying in a tweet, “While Stacey Abrams and the MLB stole the All-Star Game from hardworking Georgians, the Braves earned their trip to the World Series this season and are bringing it home to Georgia.”

Kemp defeated Abrams for governor in 2018, and she has maintained a high profile in state and national voting issues. While critical of the new Georgia voting law, Abrams had urged the MLB to keep the All-Star game in Atlanta. Abrams has not said if she will run for governor in 2022.

Braves management has said the Braves name will remain. The team’s top executive, Terry McGuirk, said in July 2020 that “unequivocally” the name would not change.

Manfred told reporters this week he is comfortable with the Braves name, the use of the tomahawk chop and playing the World Series in Atlanta.


2020: Atlanta Braves executives make team’s position clear on name change questions

2020: Braves’ name, chop are complex and personal issues for Native Americans

2019: Chiefs of Georgia native tribes call tomahawk chop ‘inappropriate’

April 2021: Braves use ‘tomahawk chop’ during home opener

April 2021: MLB moves All-Star game out of Georgia over voting law

March 2021: Key details of the new Georgia election law passed by the Legislature

Foam tomahawks wait in the seats for fans for the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs in the Braves home opener MLB baseball game at SunTrust Park on Monday, April 1, 2019, in Atlanta.    Curtis Compton/


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