image copyrightGetty Images

The Cleveland Indians professional baseball team have dropped their controversial name for one aimed at being more inclusive: the Guardians.

The Ohio-based team's original name – adopted in 1915 – had long been criticised as racist by Native American groups.

The new name references a pair of well-known statues in the city of Cleveland.

Plans to change the name were first announced last December, in the wake of widespread racial justice protests.

Team owner Paul Dolan at the time said he had an "awakening or epiphany" about the name following the death of George Floyd, an African-American man murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis last May.

A year earlier, the team dropped their "Chief Wahoo" logo. That logo, first used in 1947, pictured a red-faced and smiling cartoon man wearing a single feather. Native American activists said it was an offensive racial caricature.

The Cleveland Guardians owe their new moniker to the "Guardians of Traffic" statues on a local bridge.

The Guardians have a new logo too – a baseball flanked with winged letter G's.

Actor Tom Hanks narrated the team's Twitter video reveal of the changes.

"It has always been Cleveland that has been the best part of our name," he said. "This is the city we love and the game we believe in and together we are all Cleveland Guardians."

These changes come amid widespread pressure to drop racist and offensive team names across the country.

Last July, amid pressure from lawmakers and activists, Washington DC's American football team announced it was dropping its "Redskins" name. They have since been called the Washington Football Team.

Activists also hope to change the names of a number of other teams that continue to invoke Native American stereotypes, including the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Blackhawks, and Kansas City Chiefs.

You might also be interested in:media captionWashington NFL team drop controversial name and logo