The Atlanta Braves issued a statement addressing the concerns of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley regarding the use of the “tomahawk chop” by fans at SunTrust Park during the National League Division Series.
In an article before Friday’s Game 2 by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Helsley said the fans’ arm motion and chant are “disrespectful” and “kind of caveman-type” behavior. The “tomahawk chop” has been used by Braves fans at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium since the 1991 season.
The Braves issued the following statement to the Post-Dispatch Saturday and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday: “Our organization has sought to embrace all people and highlight the many cultures in Braves Country. We will continue to evaluate how we activate elements of our brand, as well as the in-game experience, and look forward to a continued dialogue with those in the Native American community once the season comes to an end.”
Helsley, a 25-year-old rookie, is from Tahlequah, Okla. His grandfather was full-blooded Cherokee and the family has deep roots in the heart of Cherokee Nation.
“I think it’s a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people or Native Americans in general,” Helsley told the Post-Disptach Friday afternoon before Game 2. “Just depicts them in this kind of caveman-type people way who aren’t intellectual. They are a lot of more than that. It’s not me being offended by the whole mascot thing. It’s not. It’s about the misconception of us, the Native Americans, and it devalues us and how we’re perceived in that way, or used as mascots. The Redskins and stuff like that.
“That’s the disappointing part,” he continued. “That stuff like this still goes on. It’s just disrespectful, I think.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.