ATLANTA -- It's no small irony that America's team is not Native America's team.
"Screaming in the stands and making war whoops, waving tomahawks up and down, people don't understand that has a tremendous psychological effect," Clyde Bellecourt said in an interview recently. He's a longtime Native American civil rights activist.
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The Atlanta Braves are on the short list of those in sports who use Native American caricatures as part of their brand.
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"They were the Milwaukee Braves before they were the Atlanta Braves," said one area resident we caught up with Sunday. "And that's been a recognized brand for a long time. And on the sensitivity of Native Americans, you know, sometimes, I see it as a token of respect as opposed to an admonishment."
But to many, the idea of using people as mascots is obsolete at best. "I don't feel like it's proper for anyone to have anything that's offensive to a certain group or anything, so I think they should at least consider it," said another person we polled on the street. "I'm not saying I'm for or against it. But I think it's a topic for discussion."
"With any group of people, if they're feeling uncomfortable about a thing, you should take that in consideration," agreed one young woman. "We went from Colored to Negro to Black to African-Americans, so absolutely I think they should change their names from Braves."
Some are beginning to take a very public stand on the long-simmering issue, from prominent sports writers to the President; they are now suggesting that the names be changed.
"I think that should be based on both what the small group thinks and what the majority of people think," said another young woman in Grant Park. "Like, personally, I think I would change the name because I think that it's slightly insulting."
But the issue stirs deep feelings that often contradict, no matter what side of the debate you're on.
"I think it's... if not insulting... then pretty insensitive," said another woman we met. "But I know how this state feels about the Atlanta Braves, so I guess I'm wishy-washy. I'm not sure what to do."