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MiLB: JUN 24 Memphis Redbirds at Indianapolis Indians

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The minor league baseball team, the Indianapolis Indians will be keeping its name. In the past, many teams from every sport have faced backlash for their Native American mascot figures. However, the Indianapolis Indians decided to stand their ground and not budge. They are instead partnering with the Miami Nation of Indians of Indiana and will be reading “land acknowledgments” before the start of every home game, thank and recognize Miami veterans during a planned Native American Heritage Night, and support education and scholarships within the Mimi scholarship program.

The Chief of the Miami Nation of Indiana stated, “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 Indiana that is not from this area, that’s wrong. You’re going to offend us. Its all about how you do it.”

Why is this so controversial?

Throughout recent years, many teams have come under fire for portraying prejudiced mascots and team icons. In 2020, the Washington NFL Team changed its name to the Commanders. In 2021, the Cleveland Indians changed their name to the Cleveland Guardians. In 2012, the University of North Dakota went from ‘The Fighting Sioux’ to ‘The Fighting Hawk’. Not everyone has been on board with the switch though. Florida State University found its “Seminole” name justified along with public support from the Tribal Council of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. This shows that when you have good intentions and contact the right individuals to execute, things can work in your favor. Bruce Schumacher, chairman and CEO of the Indianapolis Indians stated, “It is appropriate, being from the city of Indianapolis, ‘the city of Indians,’ and Indiana being the ‘land of Indians’. It just became a matter, in our eyes, of doing it the right way.”

The Indianapolis Indians have had their name since 1902. The team is a part of the Class AAA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. They play in downtown Indianapolis at Victory Field.