Braves don’t comment on team name, say they value Native American community

Atlanta Braves fans wave red styrofoam tomahawks in 2018.
Atlanta Braves fans wave red styrofoam tomahawks in 2018.

Credit: Mitchell Northam/AJC

Credit: Mitchell Northam/AJC

As two professional sports franchises reevaluate their names, the Braves don’t seem to be considering changing theirs.

The Washington Redskins of the NFL and the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball have recently announced they are reconsidering their team names. Their evaluations prompted questions if the Braves would follow suit.

In a recent statement, the Braves didn’t suggest they were considering a name change. They instead said their franchise “honors, supports and values the Native American community.”

The statement continued: “We have also held meetings with our Native American Working Group which will collaborate with us on cultural issues, education and community outreach to amplify their voices and show our fans they are still proudly here.

“The Atlanta Braves have a meaningful commitment to honor the Native American community and we are excited about working together to ensure this happens.”

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The Braves' use of the "tomahawk chop" as a rallying cry has long been debated. During the National League Division Series last October, Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley, a member of the Cherokee Nation, said the chanting "devalues our Cherokee heritage and the Native American history."

Following Helsley's comments, the Braves didn't distribute foam tomahawks during Game 5. They'd previously done so in Games 1 and 2.

The Braves haven’t addressed how they plan to move forward, but they said in their latest statement they have “much work to do on and off the field.”

The 60-game season begins July 23 and will be without fans in the stands due to the pandemic. The Braves opened camp earlier this week.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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