Story at a glance

  • Native American groups are pushing back at the idea that Indigenous communities support Atlanta Braves fans performing the tomahawk chop.
  • "The Braves have done a phenomenal job with the Native American community. The Native American community in that region is wholly supportive of the Braves' program, including the chop,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday.
  • "In that market, taking into account the Native American community, it works," Manfred added.

Native American groups are pushing back at the idea proposed by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred that Indigenous communities support Atlanta Braves fans performing the tomahawk chop.  

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred looks on prior to Game 1 of a baseball American League Division Series between the Houston Astros and the Chicago White Sox Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


The Commissioner told reporters on Tuesday that local groups are “wholly supportive” of the Braves’ ritual, NBC News reported

"The Braves have done a phenomenal job with the Native American community," Manfred said. "The Native American community in that region is wholly supportive of the Braves' program, including the chop.

"And for me, that's kind of the end of the story," Manfred, who reportedly said he consulted with the local Cherokee nation, continued. "In that market, taking into account the Native American community, it works."


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Yet Jason Salsman, a spokesperson for Chief David Hill of the Muscogee Nation whose ancestral homeland was in Georgia before they were pushed out, told the outlet the perspective of one native group is insufficient. 

"If you just go out and get a group here or there and say you're good, I don't think that's how Indian Country works," Salsman told NBC. "You need to speak to the whole of Indian Country and make sure that you get a grand consensus. I wouldn't say that they have that."

"I think for us, with the tomahawk chop, you're not getting anything really authentic," Salsman added. "You're getting something that's more of a caricature."

President of the Indigenous advocacy group IllumiNative and member of the Pawnee Nation of Northern Oklahoma, Crystal Echo Hawk, told the outlet the issue with the Braves tomahawk chop needs a broader consensus, adding that rituals and chants at sporting events can have a detrimental psychological impact. 

"We can't let this just be a local Native issue. The imagery, chant, red face aren't just impacting locally — it's impacting all Natives."

Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians also released a statement on Wednesday negating the commissioner’s claims. 

“In our discussions with the Atlanta Braves, we have repeatedly and unequivocally made our position clear -- native people are not mascots and degrading rituals like the ‘tomahawk chop’ that dehumanize and harm us have no place in American society,” Sharp said. 


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Published on Oct 28, 2021