In Face of Protest, Nike Defends Selling Chief Wahoo Products

Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry protest at Nike's world headquarters. PHOTO Courtesy: EONM

Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry protest at Nike’s world headquarters. PHOTO Courtesy: EONM

BEAVERTON, OREGON — A dozen members of Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry protested outside of Nike’s world headquarters on Thursday the company’s selling of Chief Wahoo products.

Chief Wahoo is the silly-looking caricature used by the Cleveland Major League Baseball team. Facing pressure from American Indians opposed to Chief Wahoo’s image, the Cleveland team is in the process of phasing out Chief Wahoo.

Even with the team’s movement towards phasing out the image, Nike keeps selling Chief Wahoo products.

By Friday, Nike responded to the protester’s call to stop selling Chief Wahoo products with the following statement.

“Nike has a contractual partnership with Major League Baseball as the licensing agent for MLB team­approved marks. Each MLB team is responsible for choosing their team logos and marks and we understand that the Cleveland Indians are engaging their fans and the local community in conversation concerning their logo.”

Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry was quick to respond to Nike’s statement with a three-fold argument:

  • We feel Nike’s argument makes no sense because the logical conclusion to it is that they would sell any derogatory mascot if asked to do so–no matter how badly it reflects upon their brand. Are they really saying that if a community and a team agreed they would sell apparel with a Sambo mascot?
  • We feel that there is a moral imperative and that since the American Indian community in Cleveland has been outspoken on the issue of Chief Wahoo for 45 years the opinions of the community have been ignored and no meaningful dialogue has occurred. This despite the National Congress of American Indian’s (national organization that represents the majority of Native people in the United States) calls since 1969 to stop the use of Native Mascots, especially Chief Wahoo which is a horrible caricature that dehumanizes Native people.
  • Also, Nike’s dedication to Native people expressed by their commendable N7 program should by all rights include a stipulation that they will not be selling products carrying such racist mascots. We ask that they live up to the spirit of their N7 commitments and stop selling Chief Wahoo.

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3 Comments
  1. Gary Patton 4 years ago
  2. Bill Brown 4 years ago
  3. richard d. smith 4 years ago