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White House Urges 'Conversation' About MLB Team Name Change

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 23:  President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony celebrating the 2020 WNBA Seattle Storm championship at the White House on August 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 23: President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony celebrating the 2020 WNBA Seattle Storm championship at the White House on August 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Atlanta Braves will once again take center stage when defending their World Series title in the 2022 playoffs.

Before the postseason begins, Atlanta will go to D.C. to start a three-game series against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday. The Braves were at the White House celebrating their 2021 championship on Monday. This promoted a reporter to ask White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about the team's name and use of the tomahawk chop.

"We believe that it's important to have this conversation," Jean-Pierre said, "and Native Americans and indigenous voices, they should be at the center of this conversation."

Jean-Pierre added that President Joe Biden and his administration believe that "all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect."

Last October, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred claimed that the Native American community "is wholly supportive" of the team and chop after he consulted with a local Cherokee tribe.

Yet he received pushback on that declaration. None of the three federally recognized Cherokee bands is based in Georgia.

Jason Salsman, a spokesman for Chief David Hill of the Muscogee Nation, called the chop a "caricature." 

Crystal EchoHawk, executive director and founder of IllumiNative, called for the team to remove the "racist" and "dehumanizing" gesture last year.

"There’s zero rationale for the team to hold on to this any longer," EchoHawk said, per CNN. "I think it says that the franchise is very much a part of perpetuating and condoning racism full stop."

The Cleveland franchise, known as the Indians since 1915, changed its name to the Guardians this season. That change came three years after removing the "Chief Wahoo" logo from their uniforms.

Despite owner Daniel Snyder's steady refusal, the NFL's Washington organization stopped going by its longtime name in 2020 amid pressure from sponsors. The team now goes by the Commanders after spending two years as the Football Team. 

While Jean-Pierre never directly called on Atlanta to follow suit, the team could be next in line to reconsider its branding or at least distance itself from the chop.