This article traces the history of the Cleveland Indians and Chief Wahoo. It then suggests and assesses two methods by which the Chief Wahoo emblem may be legally challenged. The first method is to assert that Chief Wahoo, as used in Jacob's Field, is state sponsored discrimination. As such it could be challenged as a violation of equal protection or as racist speech. Alternatively, in addition to proving that the teams' actions should be deemed state actions, a new theory asserting that discriminatory state speech is a violation of the First Amendment could be advanced. Another method by which the Chief Wahoo emblem may be legally challenged is by asserting it is a disparaging trademark and therefore invalidly registered. Trademark registration is governed by the Lanham Act which prohibits the registration of scandalous or disparaging marks. While many see the Cleveland Indians' Chief Wahoo emblem as innocuous, a great many others see the mark as blatantly offensive. Given the number of people who find the Chief Wahoo mark offensive, hopefully the Cleveland Indians will change the mark themselves. If not, the action contemplated in this article might provide valid grounds for legal challenge.
Jack Achiezer Guggenheim,
The Indians' Chief Problem: Chief Wahoo as State Sponsored Discrimination and a Disparaging Mark,
46 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at http://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol46/iss2/3