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Jourdan Bennett-Begaye
ICT

More than two years ago, George Floyd’s murder sparked national conversations about police reform, racial injustice, and our own biases.

Our newsroom saw that our name, “Indian Country Today,” though a strong brand and recognizable name anywhere, was also outdated.

Our style guide had this entry for ICT:

“Many readers have said that the term “Indian” represents the past and have asked us why we don’t change our name? Fact is if we were starting from scratch we would likely go another route. But brands are powerful and Indian Country Today is a case in point: Readers know where to find us, something that would be lost with a name change. We should always be mindful, however, about the terms history and especially our use of symbols associated with the word. It’s unacceptable to become the very mascot we object to in professional sports or media.”

That style entry is four years old, from when we started from scratch again in 2018 using the name. That brand attracted 6.6 million people every year to our digital platform and now a national television broadcast in 37 states with an international audience. The broadcast will reach all 50 states starting in July.

We were right four years ago; brands are powerful. What’s even more powerful is the talent in the newsroom and voices in our communities.

Over the course of a year, Candis Callison, Tałtan and journalism professor at the University of British Columbia, facilitated conversations in our newsrooms about a possible name change. Those conversations were very insightful due to the makeup of our newsroom, from interns to veteran journalists, and the ranges of backgrounds and experiences. Everyone had their ears to the ground, bringing community voices with them.

This country and Indigenous nations and peoples are moving in a new direction of inclusiveness and equity. That means we had to consider the term “Indian” in our name.

“Indian” is often a term used by the elder generation because that’s what the government called them and they called themselves. It’s in federal documents.

If you ever hear elders speak and say “Indians,” they say it without flinching.

Young people have a clear idea of who they are. On the frontlines or at the podium speaking at the United Nations, they call themselves by their autonym: Apsáalooke, Diné, Haudenosaunee, Hunkpapa, and on and on. That’s where the future is.

ICT’s mission is to build the next generation of storytellers and to build a sustainable news organization for them. Times are changing. Innovation and evolution are needed.

The facilitated conversations with Callison led to renaming “Indian Country Today” to ICT.

ICT captures all the generations and voices in our communities and newsroom. It can still mean Indian Country Today to those who know its legacy and brand. It can also take on the name of Indigenous Communities Today, Indigenous Cultures Today, or more. We are leaving it up to interpretation of our readers.

Along with the name is a new logo.

The late Shon Quannie, Acoma Pueblo, designed the turtle logo for ICT. That logo is now used for ICT’s parent company, IndiJ Public Media. We wanted to keep on his legacy and worked with Jill Neumeister of Orca Design Group, who admired Quannie’s work from afar.

The new logo signifies a ribbon skirt. To show the matriarchal power in Indigenous communities. Our organization is made up of majority Native women as well as the leadership.

The colors on the logo represent the different owners of ICT throughout its 40 years. Blue for its founding by Tim Giago and initially known as The Lakota Times. Purple for the Oneida Nation of New York. Orange represents the National Congress of American Indians. Red for ICT now, the constant thread and foundation of who we are: Indigenous news by Indigenous journalists for Indigenous peoples.

On Friday, June 24, at 5 p.m. Arizona Time, our new URL will kick in: www.ictnews.org. 

New ICT logo

ICT is a nonprofit news organization. Will you support our work? All of our content is free. There are no subscriptions or costs. And we have hired more Native journalists in the past year than any news organization ─ and with your help we will continue to grow and create career paths for our people. Support ICT for as little as $10. Sign up for ICT’s free newsletter