The Indianapolis Indians, the Class AAA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, announced Wednesday that it will not change its team name and is instead partnering with a local Native American tribe.
In a statement, the organization said it was partnering with the Miami Nation of Indians of Indiana. As part of the partnership, the Indians said they will have a land acknowledgement that will be read before the start of every home game, recognize Miami veterans during a planned Native American Heritage Night and support educational opportunities and the Miami scholarship program.
‘That’s who we are. We are the Miami Indians of the state of Indiana,’ Chief of the Miami Nation of Indians of Indiana Brian Buchanan told the Indianapolis Star Wednesday in an interview. That’s part of our name,’ Buchanan said. ‘It’s about respect, it’s about dignity, it’s about recognition and the correct way to do it. If you put a drunken Indian out there or one that is looking all cartoonish, that’s wrong. If you’re going to portray an Indian that is not from this area, that’s wrong. You’re going to offend us.
‘It’s all about how you do it.’
Here’s everything you need to know about the matter.
Why is the Indianapolis Indians team name controversial?
Over the past decade, several sports teams have changed their names and mascots to eliminate racist names and imagery that depict Native American and ethnic minorities with stereotypes. The most high-profile cases have been the Washington NFL team, which changed its name in July 2020 and eventually settled on the Commanders in February 2022, and the Cleveland MLB team, which changed its name to the Guardians in 2021. The Guardians were formerly known by the Indians, the same name as the Indianapolis minor league team. In 2012, the University of North Dakota also dropped its former Native American moniker and mascot and changed the team to the Fighting Hawks.
Like the Indianapolis minor league baseball team, other prominent sports franchises and universities have retained their controversial mascots. Florida State University, for example, has justified its Seminole team name through public support from the Tribal Council of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
What have executives from the Indianapolis Indians said about the matter?
In an interview with the Indianapolis Star, part of the USA TODAY Network, Indians chairman and CEO Bruce Schumacher explained the organization’s decision to stick with the name.
‘It is appropriate, being from the city of Indianapolis, ‘the city of Indians,’ and Indiana being the ‘land of Indians,’ ‘ Schumacher said. ‘It just became a matter, in our eyes, of doing it the right way. And who better to advise us on doing it the right way than the Miami Indians of Indiana. We want to be respectful and we want to be authentic.’
What are some of the facts about the Indianapolis Indians?
The team has had the Indians moniker since 1902. The release issued by the minor league team said the team name would remain for the 2023 and 2024 seasons. The team plays at Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis.
Not everyone agrees with the decision to keep the team nickname. Carolina A. Castoreno, executive director of the American Indian Center of Indiana, told the Indianapolis Star that the decision to keep the team name is ‘dehumanizing a whole race of people.’