The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Braves are internally discussing whether or not to continue encouraging the use of the “Tomahawk Chop,” a rallying cry used by Braves fans at Truist Park. To do the “Tomahawk Chop,” fans imitate a Native American chant and wave a foam tomahawk or an empty hand back and forth. It is usually prompted by music played over the public address system.
MLB’s Braves and Indians, as well as the NFL’s Redskins and Chiefs and the NHL’s Blackhawks have received criticism in recent years for the use of Indian names and iconography. Last week, due to pressure from FedEx which holds the naming rights to their stadium, the Washington football team said it “will undergo a thorough review of the team’s name.” The Indians also released a statement, saying, “We are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”
The Braves most prominently received blowback about the “Chop” during the playoffs last year when Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley — a member of Cherokee Nation — said, “I think it’s a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people or Native Americans in general. Just depicts them in this kind of caveman-type people way who aren’t intellectual.” Helsley added that he felt the act is “disrespectful.” The Braves issued a public statement, removed foam tomahawks from their stadium, and promised not to instigate the “Chop” while Helsley pitched.
While the Braves may ditch the “Tomahawk Chop” (as well as rebrand their “Chop House” restaurant and “Tomahawk Team” spirit group), Rosenthal notes that the Braves have no intention to change the name of the team.