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The Tribe

by Joseph Horton

It’s 1947, and the Cleveland Indians want a new eye-catching logo. So World War II vet and painter John Everett goes to the Navajo Nation in Arizona to find a new face for the franchise. He’s looking for a fresh Indian—inspiring and likeable, brave and bucktoothed—to adorn hats, shirts, and jerseys for decades to come. At a mining site in the vast Navajo desert, Everett finds his man: Nakai, a veteran turned miner whose father was a shot-to-death extra in a John Wayne movie. Soon, however, Everett is adding embellishments necessary to truly rouse the fans—the hatchet nose, the broad smile, the noble feather—sure that this will be the symbol for the team’s winning future. Sardonic and timely, The Tribe asks, Who is the man behind the mascot? And what is a face without the weight of history behind it?