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New Mexico’s Lt. Gov. wants stadium’s ‘Chief Wahoo’ dropped

July 20, 2020 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s lieutenant governor has called on the high school baseball team he once coached to remove its stadium’s logo of a Native American caricature.

Howie Morales asked the superintendent of Cobre Consolidated School District in Grant County to remove the “Chief Wahoo” logo from the main sign at Cobre High’s baseball stadium in Bayard, New Mexico, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Saturday.

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A similar logo was used by Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians until 2018 but still remains at the high school stadium, which is named after Morales.

“This cartoonish caricature of a Native American in the signage of our own local baseball stadium, used and visited by countless students and families, sends the wrong message to our young people,” Morales wrote in a letter earlier this month to Superintendent Robert Mendoza. “In short, it is time for the Chief Wahoo to go.”

Morales coached Cobre’s baseball team to a state title in 2008 and retired shortly after, as he became a state senator representing District 28.

The lieutenant governor said the school’s athletic teams, called the Indians, have a new logo that is not Chief Wahoo, but there’s been no update to the stadium sign.

“The Chief Wahoo logo clearly causes anguish and frustration for many people, especially Native Americans across the United States,” Morales wrote.

Morales also said Snell Middle School in Bayard should change the name of its mascot, the Redskins.

The lieutenant governor said he doesn’t think the high school team needs to change the name of its mascot because it is a “reflection of the historical part of the community in Grant County.”

“There doesn’t seem to be any controversy around that,” he told the newspaper.

Mendoza did not immediately return a phone message.

Morales was a longtime teacher with Cobre Consolidated School District, where he coached the Indians. Cobre High School receives its students from Snell Middle School.

Bayard, 11 miles (17.7 kilometers) east of Silver City, has a population of about 2,300, mostly Latino, with fewer than 1% of residents identifying themselves as Native American, according to U.S. census data.

Washington’s NFL team announced recently they would drop their logo and team name after the team’s owner resisted such changes for years. The move comes after decades of pressure from Native American advocacy groups who have urged professional, college, and high teams to change names tied to Indigenous stereotypes and tribal affiliations.