ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS) – As is often the case at Braves home games, Atlanta fans at SunTrust Park during Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cardinals performed the “tomahawk chop” chant and gesture — usually with the aid of foam tomahawks — early and often. That was also the case when Cardinals right-hander Ryan Helsley entered the game in the eighth inning of the eventual St. Louis win.
Helsley, as it turns out, is an Oklahoma native and a member of the Cherokee Nation. Here’s what he had to say about the chop:
And here’s more from Helsley, via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
“I think it’s a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people or Native Americans in general,” Helsley said Friday afternoon at SunTrust Park. “Just depicts them in this kind of caveman-type people way who aren’t intellectual. They are a lot of more than that. 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 how we’re perceived in that way, or used as mascots. The Redskins and stuff like that.
“That’s the disappointing part,” he continued in a conversation with The Post-Dispatch. “That stuff like this still goes on. It’s just disrespectful, I think.”
Goold’s story has more, including additional comments from Helsley and also some background on how Braves fans came to start doing the chop, so be sure to give it a full read.