Members of Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry and supporters will meet outside Nike’s Beaverton headquarters Thursday to protest the company’s production and distribution of apparel featuring Cleveland Indians’ mascot Chief Wahoo, which the group has called a “grotesque caricature.”
Portland writer Jacqueline Keeler, an organizer of the protest and a founder of EONM, says Nike hasn’t responded to phone calls about eliminating the mascot, so protesters will meet at 8 a.m. to catch Nike employees as they walk into work.
“It sends a message to the industry to sports teams that native mascots are unacceptable,” Keeler says. “We oppose all native mascots because they promote stereotypes of native people.”
Keeler says a movement to discontinue the Chief Wahoo logo is already underway in Cleveland — fans of the baseball team are sporting Indians’ gear that has the mascot cut out from jerseys t-shirts and baseball caps.
The group is also hoping to push the hashtag #Dechief nationally on Twitter all next week.
EONM has been involved with other protests against Native American mascots, like the Washington Redskins. It was during a Washington Redskins game that Keeler says that the founders of EONM came together to start the viral movement with the hashtag #NotYourMascot.
Keeler, a Cleveland native, said she’s especially passionate about the issue because her parents protested against Chief Wahoo in the 1960s.
She says that before her father died last summer, they attended a Cleveland-Seattle game.
“He was very satisfied that the Mariners won,” she says, laughing.
Nike has not returned my phone call as of 3 p.m. on Wednesday.