The Atlanta Braves informed season-ticket holders Sunday that they have no plans to change their nickname.
The email addresses the nickname, among those in pro sports under discussion for a change because of racial insensitivity, and the Braves’ tomahawk chop performed at games by fans. The club said it will take a closer look at the chop.
The letter was penned by Braves chairman Terry McGuirk and president and CEO Derek Schiller.
“The Atlanta Braves honors, respects and values the Native American community. As an organization, we have always drawn strength from our diversity and respect for everyone. That will never change,” the Braves’ email said. “We have had an active and supportive relationship with the Native American community for many years. Last fall, we furthered this relationship and pledged to meet and listen to Native American and tribal leaders from many areas, including the Eastern Band of the Cherokees (EBCI) in North Carolina.
“As a result, we formed a cultural working relationship with the EBCI and have also formed a Native American Working Group with a diverse collection of other tribal leaders to collaborate on matters related to culture, education, outreach, and recognition on an on-going basis.
“Through our conversations, changing the name of the Braves is not under consideration or deemed necessary. 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.”
The Braves said the chop is an issue they are working through with their Native American advisory group. The team isn’t ready yet to make an informed decision on the popular chant and accompanying arm motion, which became a staple of fans at Braves games since the 1990s.
Other pro sports franchises with Native American nicknames also have addressed a name change. The Washington Redskins appear most likely to make the change after pressure from corporations like Amazon, FedEx, Nike, Target and Walmart.
The Chicago Blackhawks made a similar decision to the Braves by opting to keep their nickname.
“Integrating learnings from our meetings with the Native American tribal leaders, we are working together to elevate Native American culture and language on a continuous basis,” the Braves said in the email. “Activations include a permanent exhibit inside the ballpark honoring Native Americans, designing merchandise and other ways to support indigenous language, and partnering with Native American content producers to showcase the positive impacts Native American tribes and tribal leaders have had on our history and the community.
“Some of these activities are new and some have been on-going for a long time. We are committed to having a strong connection with the Native American community, which includes showcasing important past, present, and future aspects of their culture.”