With the Washington Redskins dropping their name for good, many wondered if the Atlanta Braves would be the next to fall.
According to a statement from the team, the “Braves” name is safe…for now, but the famed “Tomahawk Chop” ritual may not be.
For those who have not witnessed the Tomahawk Chop chant, it’s quite a sight.
People reports the Atlanta Braves announced they will not be changing their name even as renewed focus falls on sports teams who use Native American names and imagery.
In a statement sent to PEOPLE that was initially given to season ticket holders, the Braves affirmed they would keep their name citing an “active and supportive relationship” with the Native American community.
“The Atlanta Braves honors, respects and values the Native American community. As an organization, we have always drawn strength from our diversity and respect for everyone. That will never change,” the team says. “We have had an active and supportive relationship with the Native American community for many years. Last fall, we furthered this relationship and pledged to meet and listen to Native American and tribal leaders from many areas, including the Eastern Band of the Cherokees [EBCI] in North Carolina.”
“As a result, we formed a cultural working relationship with the EBCI and have also formed a Native American Working Group with a diverse collection of other tribal leaders to collaborate on matters related to culture, education, outreach, and recognition on an on-going basis,” they continue in the statement.
Yet, the Braves say they would review the use of the “Tomahawk Chop,” an action performed by fans at games that simulates the chopping of a weapon linked to indigenous peoples in North America.
“Through our conversations, changing the name of the Braves is not under consideration or deemed necessary. We have great respect and reverence for our name and the Native American communities that have held meaningful relationships with us do as well. We will always be the Atlanta Braves,” says the team, which has used the Braves name for more than a century.
“As it relates to the fan experience, including the chop, it is one of the many issues that we are working through with the advisory group,” the team continues. “The chop was popularized by our fans when Deion Sanders joined our team and it continues to inspire our players on the field. With that in mind, we are continuing to listen to the Native American community, as well as our fans, players, and alumni to ensure we are making an informed decision on this part of our fan experience.”
The letter comes just as Washington, D.C.’s NFL team announced they were dropping the Redskins for a new name that will be revealed in the coming weeks. Their former name had long been considered a racial slur against Native Americans.