Courtesy Jennifer Kay Falcon
From left, Sue Collyer, Bee Schrull, Rachael Collyer protest outside of Progressive Insurance headquarters in Mayfield, Ohio.

Cleveland AIM, Allies Protest Progressive Insurance's Support of 'Indians' Mascot

Jennifer Kay Falcon

The Cleveland American Indian Movement held their first protest outside of the Progressive corporate headquarters earlier this month. It was the first step in escalating their campaign against the national insurance company and the Cleveland Indians.

Members of Cleveland AIM demonstrated with signs outside of Progressive’s corporate office after the company’s board declined to meet with them to discuss supporting the removal of ‘Indians’ from the stadium in Ohio and changing the team’s Native American mascot, Chief Wahoo.

No arrests were made at the demonstration, but the group was asked to relocate to the sidewalk off of Progressive’s property. The group plans to hold regular protests at the headquarters in addition to their protests outside of Progressive field when the Indians play, said Cleveland AIM’s executive director, who goes by the name “Sundance.”

“Our next steps are to cultivate our ‘natural allies’ by engaging civic and religious groups, and people of conscience. We are trying to build a coalition here in the Cleveland area to address this issue. This coalition is still in its infancy stage but we are hopeful that many organizations will respond positively,” he said.

Members of the American Indian Movement Cleveland and supporters protest outside the Insurance company's headquarters against its support of the Cleveland Indians name and mascot. Courtesy Jennifer Kay Falcon.

ICTMN reached out to Progressive for comment on the protest and, at the time of publication, has not received a response.

In a statement the company sent to Cleveland AIM in May, Progressive maintained that Cleveland AIM’s requests are not something they have control of in their contract with the Cleveland Indians.

“While we understand your concerns, the Board believes your issue is with the Cleveland Indians Baseball Club and Major League Baseball,” Progressive said in a statement issued to Cleveland AIM earlier this month.

Progressive is in a seven-year contract with the Cleveland Indians. The agreement permits the insurance company to have its name on the team’s stadium in Ohio.

The Indians have scaled down their use of their mascot Chief Wahoo, but refuses to completely change the mascot or team's name despite decades-long protests by Native Americans.

Josh Guzman, a member of Cleveland AIM, believes that Progressive is a part of the Native American mascot issue.

“Progressive should be held accountable because their name, their ‘face,’ is on the stadium,” he said. “Their name is on an entity that makes money off of racist stereotypes. Progressive is part of an entity that perpetuates racism and harmful stereotypes toward a community that I am a member of.”

Guzman said Progressive’s message to Native Americans is unambiguous.

“Whether Progressive intends to or not, they are communicating to me, and other Native Americans, that I am not a human being; that we are not human beings,” he said.

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