East Lansing park changes name to honor Indigenous culture

Abbot Road Park is now named Azaadiikaa Park.
Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 7:03 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - First the Okemos Chiefs, then the Sexton Big Reds, now Abbot Road Park - all renamed to honor and remember Indigenous people.

Azaadiikaa is a part of a bigger picture to remember and honor those who were here hundreds of years ago. Azaadiikaa means many cottonwoods.

A renaming ceremony was held Monday morning on Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

“Today we are reclaiming and renaming. We say reclaiming because we feel like this is our ancestorial home. Do we own it? No, we are just paying homage to it and our ancestors that gathered here prior to us being born here,” said Shay Sandoval-Flores, who was part of the planning committee.

This is just the latest change in Mid-Michigan this year. Okemos schools retired the Chiefs nickname and replaced it with Wolves, and Lansing Sexton High School is looking for a replacement after dropping the big red name and Native American imagery.

“I feel like some people think they were giving homage and respect to us by having those names but in theory, if you reverse it and put other people’s ethnicities into and see how it sounds, it’s not going to sound proper. You’re not giving respect,” said Sandoval-Flores

And even though several Lansing landmarks have been renamed and reclaimed, organizer Kayla Gomez said more work is still left to be done.

We would love to see policies changed on the way that local plants are - like, we don’t like local ordinances against cottonwood trees, for example, Azaadiikaa, that’s why we chose that name. And you know people just see what they shed and don’t think about the natural impact that they have in the area,” said Gomez.

The City of East Lansing said they’re standing behind the Indigenous people and are open to more changes to make the community more inclusive.

You can learn more about Michigan’s Indigenous culture through Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.

Read next:

Subscribe to our News 10 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every morning.