MLB's Atlanta Braves took steps to "reduce" fans doing the Tomahawk Chop during last night's Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, after Native American rookie Cardinals player Ryan Helsley criticized it as being disrespectful. Braves fans do the Tomahawk Chop by moving their forearms back and forth in a chopping motion as a cheer, and the team often leaves foam tomahawks on the seats for fans to use during home games. CNN cited a Braves spokesman as saying before last night's game, "Out of respect for the concerns expressed by Mr. Helsley, we will take several efforts to reduce the Tomahawk Chop during our in-ballpark presentation today. Among other things, these steps include not distributing foam tomahawks to each seat and not playing the accompanying music or using Chop-related graphics when Mr. Helsley is in the game." Helsley, who's a member of the Cherokee Nation, spoke about his concerns after Game 2 of the series on Friday, telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "I think it's a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people or Native Americans in general. It's not me being offended by the whole mascot thing. 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." He added, "That's the disappointing part. That stuff like this still goes on. It's just disrespectful, I think." Although the change was just for last night's game and the series is now over, with the Braves eliminated from the post-season, the team said in yesterday's statement that they'll continue to evaluate elements of their brands and in-game experience and, quote, "look forward to a continued dialogue with those in the Native American community."

Ron St. Pierre

Ron St. Pierre

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