Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Levi Walker, Famed Braves Mascot Chief Noc-a-Homa, Dead at 81

Levi Walker, Famed Braves Mascot Chief Noc-a-Homa, Dead at 81

Levi Walker, Jr., renowned as Chief Noc-A-Homa, the beloved mascot of the Atlanta Braves, passed away on Friday afternoon. KIRO 7 reports he was 81.

From 1968 to 1985, Walker donned the Braves mascot costume, making his home in a tipi just beyond the left-field fence. He gained notoriety for his lively dance routines on the pitcher’s mound before games. While other individuals also portrayed the mascot, Walker stood out as the most renowned, being both a Michigan native and a member of the Odawa Tribe, making him the only Native American in that role.

Walker’s passing was announced by his family through a heartfelt Facebook post. Although the cause of his death was not disclosed, his daughter, Gwen Newman, shed light on his health struggles. In July 2022, she created a GoFundMe page revealing Walker’s diagnosis of metabolic encephalopathy, a brain disorder. Additionally, Walker bravely battled diabetes and underwent dialysis for almost ten years.

When Braves fans learned of Walker’s death, they flooded social media with fond memories. “Sad to hear,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “I remember so vividly as a young boy watching Chief do his thing back in the early 80s. He was a true Braves fan! RIP Chief!”

Levi Walker Once Set His Tipi on Fire While Acting as the Braves’ Mascot

In 1966, the Atlanta Braves organized a contest to determine the name of their mascot. The winning name chosen was “Chief Noc-A-Homa”.

In 1968, Walker proposed the idea of having an actual Native American portray the chief. Prior to this, Walker had worked as an insurance salesman, warehouse worker, and plumber.

Walker was quite a character that enjoyed two very memorable moments at the mascot. On May 26, 1969, Walker accidentally set his tipi on fire while celebrating a home run by Clete Boyer of the Braves with a smoke bomb. After lighting the smoke bomb, he returned inside his tent, only to rush out when flames suddenly erupted. Fortunately, the fire was swiftly extinguished.

Another controversy arose in 1972 when activist Russell Means filed a lawsuit against the Cleveland Indians for their use of the “Chief Wahoo” logo. He also voiced his objections to Chief Noc-A-Homa. However, Walker disagreed. “I think Indians can be proud that their names are used with professional sports teams,” he said at the time.

The Braves and Walker went their separate ways prior to the 1986 season, supposedly due to a disagreement regarding compensation and attendance issues. It was rumored that Walker was earning $60 per game.