Nike on Friday issued a statement in response to a Native American group's request that the company stop producing clothing for the Cleveland Indians baseball team featuring the Chief Wahoo logo.
The statement follows the group's call on Monday for Nike to stop producing the products and an hour-long, sign-waving protest Thursday morning outside Nike's headquarters next to Beaverton.
"We ask that Nike live up to its dedication to inclusion," says a news release issued by the group called "Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry."
The Nike says:
Nike has a contractual partnership with Major League Baseball as the licensing agent for MLB team approved 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.
Nike has a long history of supporting the Native American community and we encourage the teams and leagues to engage in constructive dialogue with their communities.
An emailed request for comment to Major League Baseball was not immediately returned Friday.
Nike's history of supporting the Native American community includes the N7 Fund, started in 2000 to support health promotion and disease prevention programs. Proceeds from the products designed through N7 are given to youth sport and physical activity programs in Native communities across North America through the N7 Fund. The fund has raised more than $2 million.
Jacqueline Keeler, a Portland woman who is spokesperson for the Native group, responded to Nike's statement Friday with a written statement saying, "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."
Keeler's statement also says the Native community in Cleveland "has been outspoken on the issue of Chief Wahoo for 45 years and 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."
By Allan Brettman
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