The Atlanta Braves have no plans to change their name. Over the weekend, the team sent an email out to season-ticket holders about their relationship with the Native American Community, claiming there is no need to change the nickname. However, the Braves also said the chop celebration is something they will continue to discuss.
"Recently, there have been reports in the news regarding various team names in the world of sports. We wanted to let you know directly from us where we stand," the team said in the statement. It went on to say the Braves have "formed a cultural working relationship with the (Eastern Band of the Cherokees)" 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."
The Braves then stated the because of their relationship with the Native American community, "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." However, the team will continue to look at the fan experience, including the chop celebration, which is something they are "working through" with their advisory group. "The chop was popularized by our fans when Deion Sanders joined our team, and it continues to inspire our players on the field," the statement read. "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 news of the Braves not changing their names comes at a time when the Washington Redskins announced they are retiring their nickname and logo. The Braves had the nickname since 1912 when the team was located in Boston. However, the organization changed the name to the Bees in 1936 but went back to Braves in 1941. The team moved the Milwaukee in 1953 before coming to Atlanta in 1966.
The chop began in 1991, which was the start of the Braves 14 consecutive division championships. At the time, Native American groups wanted the celebration banned, and last year St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley, who his Native American, spoke out against the display, which led to the Braves stop handing out tomahawks in Game 5 of the divisional round playoff game against the Cardinals.