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Mets' Native American tribute fails?
The New York Mets are facing backlash from an American Indian organization after altering plans for an event later this month meant to celebrate Native American heritage.
According to the New York Times, the Mets approached a New York-based non-profit called the American Indian Community House about helping to organize a Native American Heritage Day at Citi Field. The groups picked a date, July 25, and proceeded to make plans, including traditional singing and dancing outside the stadium before first pitch.
The problem? Well, the Mets are playing the Atlanta Braves on July 25. Amid concerns that the Braves organization would consider the event a form of protest against its nickname, the team "drastically reduced the day’s activities,” according to the Times, canceling pregame festivities outside the stadium and eliminating two planned public service announcements during the game.
The de-emphasizing of the celebration angered the AICH, which responded by pulling out of the event, “citing frustration with the Mets for thwarting months of planning.” The Mets have since removed the event altogether from their online schedule of events.
“Being a nonprofit in the city, we’re not in the business of making enemies,” Kevin Tarrant, the deputy director of the A.I.C.H., told the New York Times. “This whole thing wasn’t even our idea. But it just feels like we’re being marginalized again within our own community.”
Tarrant told the paper that his organization had suggested July 25 to coincide with an upcoming powwow in Queens, and because it is an afternoon game, so more children would likely attend. The fact that the opponent was the Braves was coincidental, he said, and didn't influence the AICH's feelings about the event.
“It wasn’t like we were planning to protest anything,” Tarrant said. “We just thought it would be great to show natives in a positive light — that we’re human beings, and we’re not from 300 years ago. We’re visible.
“. . . It was a win-win situation. We’d be supporting the Mets, the Braves and Major League Baseball.”
A Mets official told the New York Times that the team proposed two other dates to hold the event — Aug. 8 against the Colorado Rockies and Aug. 25 against the Detroit Tigers. Tarrant, however, said that the Mets did not make his organization aware of the changes to the original Native American Heritage Day plans until July 1, and that a week’s worth of events had already been planned based on the July 25 date.
The Mets still have cultural events planned for Irish Heritage Night, Taiwan Day and Fiesta Latina in August. The team also held a Celebrate Israel Night in May.
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