A Washington minor league baseball team is helping a local tribe preserve its Native language. Members of the Spokane Tribe of Indians collaborated with the Spokane Indians baseball team to approve a new logo. And the team has started playing their home games in the jersey that has the word “Spokane” on the front of it in the Salish language. The logo is written in cursive in a deep maroon color.
“They came to us and they said, 'One of the problems we're having right now is that our native tongue is dying,’ Otto Klein told NW News Network. “And so that's when we decided to put on the front of our uniform – it has traditionally said 'Spokane' and what we decided to do this year is we changed it to, what we like to call 'Spokani,' but it is definitely pronounced differently.”
According to NW News, which is part of NPR, the tribe said that only 11 people are fluent in the Salish dialect and that they are fighting to pass it on to the next generation. When youth see the Salish logo on the baseball jersey in their native tongue, they may be inspired by it.
However, there has been some criticism, about the tribe’s relationship with the team.“We have a couple of individual tribal members also that have had the opinion that they don't like any mascots, whatsoever,” said Rudy Peone, chairman of the Spokane Tribe of Indians. “Non-tribal people have had the same opinion. To be truthful, to me it's easy for me to pick which are negative connotations and what the meanings are.”
But Peone says that this is a positive step for the tribe. And that little things like having the Salish language on team jerseys helps insure that their culture will be preserved. The jerseys are also catching on within the Native and Non-Native communities.
“What I like to relate it to would be when Michael Jordan and the Nike swoosh took off. Everybody wanted a pair of Jordans,” Peone said. “Well, I've got all kinds of kids and even adults too, 'Where can I get one of those jerseys?!’ So, I think it helps.”
You can read more of this story at NWNewsNetwork.org.