By JONAH LOSSIAH
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed reported at Annual Council on the morning of Monday, Oct. 28 that he would be meeting with Derek Schiller, the chief executive officer and president of the Atlanta Braves.
It comes several weeks after St. Louis Cardinals Pitcher Ryan Helsley called the Braves’ tomahawk chop tradition “disrespectful,” which sparked hesitancy from the Atlanta franchise. Helsley is a Cherokee Nation citizen.
“I think it’s a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people or Native Americans in general,” Helsley said in an interview with the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
For years, the Atlanta Braves have distributed foam tomahawks and the crowds have chanted, much like the chants heard at Florida State University.
“It’s not me being offended by the whole mascot thing,” Helsey said. “It’s not. It’s about the misconception of us, the Native Americans, and it devalues us and how we’re perceived in that way, or used as mascots.”
After Helsley’s comments, the Braves released a statement saying that they would stop providing the foam tomahawks at every seat and would no longer be playing the music in the stadium that queued the chant.
Following the attention that the story received, the Atlanta Journal Constitution then requested a comment from Chief Sneed regarding the issue. He also did not provide support for the Braves tomahawk chop.
“That’s just so stereotypical, like old-school Hollywood…Let’s move on. Find something else,” said Chief Sneed in that article.
He mentioned this interview at the Annual Council Session held on Oct. 28.
“The next day, I got a phone call from the president and CEO of the Atlanta Braves,” said Chief Sneed.
“He’s looking for an opportunity to just meet with us. And so, he’ll be coming up Wednesday, so anybody that would like to join us, I’ll give you all the time and place. We’re going to meet at Harrah’s for lunch. And then, he said he just wants to come to listen and to learn. What the objective is, is to find a way for them to engage with us as a Tribe, to possibly come up with something better and more culturally appropriate then some of the things that go on in major league sports at this time.”
Chief Sneed invited all the members of Tribal Council to attend the luncheon and meeting that was held on Wednesday, Oct. 30. The Cherokee One Feather requested access to the meeting but was denied via email for the following reasoning:
“Given the sensitive and relatively new nature of the partnership between the EBCI and the Braves both parties would prefer to keep this quiet for the time being.”
An opportunity to interview Chief Sneed after the closed meeting was also proposed, this was not provided. No statement was given from the Chief’s office regarding the visit as of press time.