Indianapolis Baseball Team Keeping Indians Name, Will Partner with Local Tribe
Unlike a few other sports franchises, the Indianapolis Indians will still be the Indianapolis Indians for the foreseeable future.
The past several years have seen a couple of high-profile franchises shed their Native American-themed team names because they were deemed to be derogatory to Native American people. Of course, the most notable happened in 2020 when the NFL's Washington D.C. franchise, known since its formation in 1932 as the Washington Redskins, temporarily changed its name to the Washington Football Team after decades of public, and eventually corporate sponsor, pressure. After playing two seasons under that name, the team announced in February of 2022 it would be the Washington Commanders moving forward.
2022 also saw a Major League Baseball team change its name when the former Cleveland Indians announced it would be known as the Cleveland Guardians. Much like Washington, the team had been under public pressure to change its name for several years.
Indianapolis Indians Name Will Remain
On Wednesday (February 22nd, 2023), the Indianapolis Indians, a Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates issued a press release stating it would continue to use the name it has used since forming over 120 years ago in 1902 for at least the next two seasons (2023 and 2024).
The release also included the announcement the team would be partnering with one of the 100 largest tribes of Native Americans in the United States, the Miami Nation of Indians of Indiana. A partnership that will include, "a land acknowledgment, recognition of Miami veterans during Native American Heritage Night at Victory Field, support of the Miami scholarship program and fan educational opportunities.
How Long Will the Team Continue Using the Name?
Obviously, the team will still be known as the Indians for the next two seasons, but if that will continue to be the case following the 2024 season is unknown. Back in 2020, when Washington and Cleveland were heading toward their eventual name changes, the powers that be formed a committee to evaluate whether or not the name was still appropriate to use. In an article published by the Indianapolis Star by Dana Hunsinger Benbow back on October 11th, 2022, at least one Native American organization, the non-profit Native American Guardian's Association, has encouraged the team to keep the name, while another, the American Indian Center of Indiana is encouraging them to change it. At the very least, Wednesday's announcement has bought them more time to decide.