The Spokane Indians Baseball Club and Spokane Tribe of Indians are a unique partnership in the world of professional sports. In 2006, the two collaborated on a rebranding of the baseball team's logo, becoming the first pairing of a team and tribe to respectfully highlight the use of local native imagery. During the rebranding, a Salish version of the logo was created. This logo has been used in some form on the team's jerseys ever since. "We welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with our namesake professional baseball team on this project," said former Chairman of the Spokane Tribe Rudy Peone. "We view this collaboration as a significant opportunity to educate thousands of baseball fans about the language and culture of the Spokane Indians - this city's first inhabitants."
The partnership between the Spokane Tribe of Indians and the Spokane Indians Baseball Club is built out of respect and inclusion. It has been a unique and rewarding collaborative effort that highlights elements that are important to the Spokane Tribe, while simultaneously providing a brand that Indians baseball fans can be proud of.
In 2014, the team announced a new home alternate uniform, a uniform that used the name 'Spokane' written in the Salish language, the native language of the Spokane Tribe of Indians. 'Sp'q'n'i?' is featured in lettering across the chest. Beginning in 2015, the Salish jersey became the primary home jersey for all 38 home games - believed to be the first Native American language to be featured on a professional sports team's primary jersey. "We're extremely proud of our close relationship with the Spokane Tribe of Indians." Said Otto Klein, Senior Vice President of the baseball team. "We appreciate the Spokane Tribe of Indians allowing us to be a vehicle to promote their language and culture." To further the positive messaging in the other Northwest League markets, since 2018 the team has worn the Spokane Tribe's traditional Salish markings on all road, batting practice, and alternate jerseys.
In 2018, the Baseball Club and Tribal Members worked together to develop tribal markers documenting the history of the Spokane Tribe, as well as its relationship with the team. These markers were installed throughout Avista Stadium Hall-of-Fame Plaza for the enjoyment and education of fans. Each marker covers a different topic, including Elders and Youth, Traditional Lifeways, Language/Culture Program, and the Partnership between the Tribe and the Team.
Through multiple conversations, it became clear that one of the goals of the Spokane Tribe of Indians that could be effectively highlighted by the partnership was to bring a renewed life to the Salish language. At the time of the rebrand in 2006, there were only a handful of fluent Salish speakers in the Spokane dialect. In addition to utilizing the Salish logo and the Salish uniforms, throughout Avista Stadium the Salish language is incorporated under English signs where possible, including on the home and visitor's clubhouse, concessions signage, and other directional signage.
It's important to both the Spokane Indians Baseball Club and the Spokane Tribe of Indians that the partnership evolves and grows organically with the Spokane Tribe of Indians. Collaboration has been the cornerstone of the relationship. In addition, when new branding efforts are made to Spokane Indians baseball campaigns, it is important that the Spokane Tribe is considered. For example, in 2019 the Spokane Indians Baseball Club introduced a sustainability logo that incorporated a version of the Eagle feather featured in the primary club logo.
- Spokane team works with Indians tribe on new logo - ESPN.com
- Authenticity, Collaboration, Respect: The Story Behind the Spokane Indians - SportsLogos.Net
- Spokane Indians baseball uniforms sport Salish Word - The Spokesman-Review
- Spokane Indians Take Historic Step With Logo in Salish Language - Indians Country Today
- Spokane Indians' New Uniforms Have Team Name in Native Spokane Salish Language - Smithsonian Magazine
- Baseball Jerseys Reveal Unusual Alliance Between Team And Tribe - Northwest News Network
- Rob Curley: Spokane Indians and tribe form unique Cooperstown combination - The Spokesman-Review
- Why One Team Named the Indians Won't Be Changing Its Name - New York Times
- HOF Education Departments Adds to Growing Collection - BaseballHall.org
- Spokane Indians Baseball Organization share great partnership with the Spokane Tribe of Indians - The Rawhide Press
- Northwest Passages: Sports mascots and Indigenous people - The Spokesman-Review
- Baseball and Culture: A discussion about Native American imagery in sports - The Spokesman-Review