Eric Berman contributed to this story.
INDIANAPOLIS–The Indianapolis Indians have no immediate plans for a name change. The Cleveland Indians announced Friday they will soon become the Cleveland Guardians.
The history of Indy’s team name didn’t originate with Native Americans, but was a play on Indianapolis. The team was later associated with the Cleveland Indians as a farm team, and then began to use Native American graphics and cartoon symbols in its marketing.
At Bush Stadium the team even once had a tepee as part of the outfield décor.
NOTE: WIBC will air a documentary called “Indiana: Land of Indians” Aug. 5 at 7 p.m. This interview is part of that special.
“We found out how ever many years ago it was, that the tepee was actually not used by Indians in this part of the country,” said team CEO Bruce Schumacher, in a recent interview with WIBC for an upcoming documentary called “Indiana: Land of Indians”.
The team stopped using the tepee.
“So, we thought if it’s not historically accurate maybe we don’t need to use it anymore.”
When the team was associated with Cleveland, Chief Wahoo, a mascot and logo that some people find offensive, was used in some of their marketing. That went away with the change of team affiliation.
In the past couple of years the Indianapolis Star stopped using the team name, giving it a moniker similar to the “Washington Football Team”. Schumacher said the team formed a study committee to get input about how the name is perceived.
“We have tried to reach out to Native American groups and other stakeholders to get their sense about the name and that’s something that, as time goes by, we will continue to study,” he said.
But, for the past year the team has had concerns about basic survival.
“This has been a tough 20 months for us. Until we got going again in May we hadn’t played baseball since August 2019. So, just trying to hang in there and keep out staff together and try to open up. There’s kind of been a lot on our plate the last year and a half.”
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