Indians keeping name, forge partnership with Miami Nation
The professional baseball team known as the Indianapolis Indians since 1902 will continue to play under that name for at least two more seasons.
As part of the announcement Wednesday, the team said it has partnered with the Miami Nation of Indians of Indiana. The Indians said the partnership will include a land acknowledgement statement before games, recognition of Miami veterans during Native American Heritage Night at Victory Field, support of the Miami scholarship program and fan educational opportunities.
In mid-2020, the Indians said they would be reviewing their name, amid pressure from some who view monikers tied to Native American culture as inappropriate. At the time, the club said it would form “a committee to explore” its name and determine whether a change is necessary, based on dialogue with local organizations and community members.
Controversy over Native American names has prompted numerous sports teams at all levels to make changes in recent years. High-profile cases included Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians (now the Guardians) and the NFL’s Washington Redskins (now the Commanders).
“We are grateful to the Indianapolis Indians for the opportunity to share our story with Hoosiers throughout central Indiana,” said Brian Buchanan, chief of the Miami Nation of Indians of Indiana, in written remarks. “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. We have encouraged the team to remain the Indianapolis Indians.”
The Miami were once the largest tribe in Indiana, but many Miami people were forced to move to reservation lands west of the Mississippi River in the 1840s, prompting the tribe to split into two groups. The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma is still federally recognized, but the Indiana Miami had their federal recognition stripped in 1897. It is registered as a not-for-profit.
Miami Nation of Indians of Indiana says it is one of the 100 largest tribes in the United States and the only continuously functioning, treaty-recognized tribe in the country that is not considered a tribe by the federal government.
“We are pleased to work with the Miami Nation of Indians of Indiana to help educate our fans about the rich history and culture of its tribe,” said Bruce Schumacher, Indianapolis Indians chairman and CEO, in written comments. “We look forward to using our platform to educate our fans by acknowledging, uplifting and honoring those upon whose ancestral lands Victory Field is built. We are excited to highlight the Miami Nation and influence of Native American people throughout our state, which means ‘land of the Indians’ and city, which means ‘city of Indians’ at Victory Field this season.”
The Indians are the Minor League Triple-A baseball club affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.