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Jane Fonda Gives Up Tomahawk Chop Following Indian Protest

October 20, 1991 GMT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Jane Fonda promised Saturday to stop doing the ″tomahawk chop″ after American Indians protested at the World Series that mimicking their sacred customs is racist.

″I don’t believe I’ve betrayed their cause,″ the actress and activist said before the first game of the World Series between the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins. ″I support them very much. But I’m sorry it offends them and I’m not going to do it anymore.″

About 250 Indians gathered outside the Metrodome before the game, emphatically but peacefully protesting the way some Atlanta fans wear headdresses, wave tomahawks and mimic a war whoop - all Indian customs. But what may be the unkindest chop of all is the nationally televised participation of Fonda, long perceived as an ally.

Fonda is a fixture at Atlanta games at the side of fiance and Braves owner Ted Turner. She is well-known for her liberal sensitivities. She was arrested in Seattle in 1970 during an American Indian Movement attempt to occupy Fort Lawton.

″We’re pretty upset with her and surprised,″ Clyde Bellecourt, an AIM leader said during the protest.

Bellecourt said the group is trying to get teams like the Braves, the Cleveland Indians and the National Football League’s Washington Redskins to change their names or at least get their fans to stop acting in ways they say demean Indians.

″It’s not so much the names,″ he said. ″It’s the chanting and the chopping.″

Many wore T-shirts saying ″Stop the Chop″ and carried signs characterizing Fonda, Turner and Braves’ fans as racists.

A banner they hung on an outer wall of the Metrodome said: ″Indians Are a People, Not a Mascot for America’s Fun and Games.″

A non-Indian protester questioned Fonda’s loyalty to Indians rights’ and other causes.

″She was with the Vietnam protesters and with other protests for Indian rights,″ Rose Wojnar of St. Paul said. ″Was that just an act, too?″

Braves president Stan Kasten said the team will address the matter, but only after the Series is over.

″We’ve spent our whole lives - everyone in this organization - trying to get where we are right now,″ he said before the game. ″And that’s all we’re going to think about this week.″

Baseball commissioner Fay Vincent agreed that the timing is wrong.

″I will pay attention to the issues,″ Vincent said. ″We need more education and will discuss it after the World Series.″