The Indianapolis Indians have decided they will not be changing their name and have instead formed a partnership with the Miami Nation Indians of Indiana.
There has been an effort in recent years to remove terms like “Indians” from sports team names due to its offensiveness to some.
Facing pressure to follow suit, the Indianapolis Indians rejected calls to do so and announced they will instead partner with a local tribe through several new programs.
“The partnership will include a land acknowledgement, recognition of Miami veterans during Native American Heritage Night at Victory Field, support of the Miami scholarship program and fan educational opportunities,” the MiLB team said in a Wednesday statement.
We have formed a new partnership with the Miami Nation of Indians of Indiana and will remain the Indianapolis Indians during the 2023 and ’24 seasons as the organization explores and activates programs with the Miami.
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) February 23, 2023
As they noted, the team’s name has been the Indianapolis Indians since its formation in 1902, and they said it “will remain the same during the 2023 and 2024 seasons as the organization explores and activates programs with the Miami.”
The leader of the Miami Nation, Chief Brian Buchanan, expressed his satisfaction with the decision to keep the name.
“We are grateful to the Indianapolis Indians for the opportunity to share our story with Hoosiers throughout central Indiana,” Buchanan said. “When the history of Indiana is studied, the major influence of Native American people is seen in the names of Indiana cities, state parks, rivers, food, celebrations and other cultural points of interest.”
He added, “We have encouraged the team to remain the Indianapolis Indians.”
Indianapolis Indians chairman and CEO Bruce Schumacher also issued a statement expressing his pleasure to work with the Miami Nation in educating fans on the influence that Native American history has had on the state.
Schumacher noted that the state’s name “Indiana” means “land of the Indians” and its capital, Indianapolis, is the “city of Indians.”
He discussed the decision further in a Wednesday interview with IndyStar, explaining that he and Buchanan began talking in September.
Schumacher said he asked him at the time: “‘How do you feel about team nicknames and the Indianapolis Indians?’” and noted that “‘We’ve had some suggest that maybe we shouldn’t be the Indianapolis Indians.’”
Buchanan told the IndyStar he remembers Schumacher asking him that and said he was “totally appalled (that people thought it was inappropriate).”
When Buchanan took the question to his council, all but one tribal member voted to keep the Indianapolis Indians name. The one member didn’t vote.
Buchanan explained that, to him, “Indians” is not an offensive term and simply represents “who we are.”
However, he also said, “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.”
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