By CHARLES ODUM
ATLANTA (AP) — With teams in two sports taking a second look at names deemed offensive to Native Americans, the Atlanta Braves on Saturday gave no indication they are willing to consider a similar change.
The Braves released a statement saying the team “honors, supports, and values the Native American community. That will never change.”
The Braves said they “have much work to do on and off the field.”
The team said in recent months it has “created an even stronger bond with various Native American tribes, both regionally and nationally, on matters related to the Braves and Native American culture.”
“We have also held meetings with our Native American Working Group which will collaborate with us on cultural issues, education and community outreach to amplify their voices and show our fans they are still proudly here,” the statement said.
“The Atlanta Braves have a meaningful commitment to honor the Native American community and we are excited about working together to ensure this happens,” it said.
The Braves have not said if they will encourage the tomahawk chop and chant by fans this season. The chant caused a stir in last year’s NL Division Series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley, a member of the Cherokee Nation, said he found the chant insulting. Following Helsley’s criticism of the chant, the Braves did not distribute their traditional red foam tomahawks to fans before Game 5 of the series, won by the Cardinals.
The foam cutouts are used when Braves fans do the chop chant at games.
Before Game 5, the Braves said they did not distribute the foam cutouts “out of respect for the concerns” expressed by Helsley. The Braves said they would continue to examine the issue after the season.
There will be no fans in the stands when the Braves’ 2020 season, delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, is scheduled to start on July 23 or 24. The Braves made no reference to the chop in their statement on Saturday.