Cleveland Europeans (2020)

Digital Art
Leon Lester

This artwork is a redesign of the team name and logo for the Cleveland Indians Baseball team franchise that has long used the name “Indians” with accompanying cartoon logo of a Native American Indian person. It has long been criticised for perpetuating Native American stereotypes and been the subject of many protests over many decades. The artwork is an attempt to show the absurdity of such name when is it created from the perspective of another culture who might equally have seen it as reasonable to appropriate the identity of another group of people for their own purposes without the permission or consensus of that group of people.
Furthermore, this artwork is designed as a symbol of remembrance of the destructive relations that existed between Native American Indians and early European Settlers in North America. The European colonies and the newly declared United States set about committing genocide on the Native American Indian population. Genocide was typified by mass-execution, biological warfare including British agents giving tribes blankets that were intentionally contaminated with smallpox, forced removal from homelands, incarceration, indoctrination of non-indigenous values, forced surgical sterilisation of native women and prevention of religious practices.
Amongst the earliest and harshest treatment of the Native Americans came from Christian sects, such as the Puritans, who saw themselves as those who would lead Native Americans on to the true path to God. Throughout the sixteenth century to the American Revolution, the goal of English missionaries was to reduce the Native Americans from savagery to what the Christians regarded as civility. Many Christians believed the quickest way to do this was to rid the world of this so-called savagery, either by conversion of the Native Indian people to Christianity or their murder.