Sportscaster Makes a Difference, Refuses to Use “Indian” During American League Championship Series

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The World Series is just around the corner, with the Cleveland Indians facing off against the Chicago Cubs.

Much of the chatter around the tournament has concerned the Cubs, a team whose fans have had to endure 108 year-long draught since the storied baseball club last won the World Series in 1908. A look at all the events and inventions (such as radio and TV) that have appeared since that fateful year underscores just how cursed the Windy City’s team has been.

While the Toronto Blue Jays – who fell to Cleveland 4-1 – may not serve a primary role in his historical moment, there is one notable story that emerged from the American League Championship Series.

Long-time Blue Jays announcer Jerry Howarth did not use “Indian” when commentating the games.

The famous sportscaster stopped using “Indian” and “Brave” after he received a letter in 1992 from a baseball fan from a northern Ontario First Nation explaining how the usage of such language – including general baseball jargon such as “pow-wow on the mound” – is offensive.

Howarth describes how he was impacted by the thoughtful correspondence: “When you get a fan letter from someone who has lived it and breathed it, and said it in this very eloquent way… he touched my heart.”

As a result, he has only used the city names of Atlanta and Cleveland when announcing games for those towns’ respective teams.

Such small acts of resistance can have a big impact. A number of other commentators and analysts, for example, chose to follow suit, including Bob Willette and Jamie Campbell.

While the nation tunes in to see if Chicago can break out of its insanely long dry spell, we can also applaud Howarth for making his on mark on history fighting against the appropriation of ethnic identities for entertainment purposes.

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