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Spokane Tribe, baseball team cement relations

SPOKANE, Wash. - The bond between the Spokane Tribe and the Spokane Indians professional baseball team was strengthened even more at a recent dedication held at Avista Stadium in Spokane. A display was unveiled prior to the second game of the season highlighting the long history of the tribe in the region and its more recent affiliation with the baseball team.

Team President Andrew Billig took the microphone on a platform before a crowd of tribal members and baseball fans to welcome everyone to the dedication.

''One of the improvements and additions to the stadium we're most proud of is the Spokane Tribe of Indians museum exhibit that you see behind me,'' he said. ''The team, which is 104 years old, was named after the Spokane Tribe of Indians. It's only fitting that we have a great partnership with the Spokane Tribe. We're very proud of that partnership. It's something that I personally have gotten a lot of enjoyment and education from. It's important for our community and hopefully a positive for the tribe as well.''

Behind the speaker's platform and mounted on a number of wooden panels were many photos, quotations and life-sized photo cutouts documenting and explaining the history of the Spokane Tribe. The titles of the various panels were written in Salish, the language of the Spokane Tribe, as well as English. The final panel illustrated the relationship with the baseball team and especially the new team uniforms.

Billig spoke about the recent change in uniforms.

''Our partnership with the Spokane Tribe has always been positive, but this past season we took a dramatic step with the tribe and team working together on a new logo - a new look - for the team. Look over the exhibit and see the two logos, one of which is in Salish, the language of the Spokane Tribe. It was a wonderful process to create those logos together with the tribe. I personally want to thank everybody who worked on that process. The continuation of that process and that collaboration is our exhibit here today.''

Billig then introduced Richard L. ''Rick'' Sherwood, chairman of the Spokane Tribe's business council, who also thanked everyone for attending the dedication.

''It's good to see the partnership between the Spokane Indians baseball club and the Spokane Tribe of Indians. It's a good opportunity to show everyone that the Spokane Indians are more than just a baseball team. We've been here as long as the rivers have flowed and the grass has growed,'' Sherwood phrased. ''It's good to be a part of this and to be able to show some of our history and to even show some of what we are today. It's an honor to be in partnership with the Spokane Indians baseball team and an honor to unveil the hard work that went into this. It's good to come here and finally see this up.''

Some find the support and cooperation between the team and the tribe refreshing to see, particularly in light of problems nationwide with team mascots. Tribal members have expressed the pride they feel in the association and recognition that the team has reached out to cooperate in promoting both groups. The team does not have an Indian-themed mascot, or any plans to install one, but will retain its well-known and popular mascot.

Billig then introduced a drum group: ''We are very fortunate to have with us Pat Moses and the rest of the drummers who are here to do an Honor Song to bless this exhibit and to dedicate it.'' Moses teaches cultural classes at the school in Wellpinit and brought some of his students, along with several tribal elders, to perform an Honor Song.

Following the song, the brief dedication ended with Billig and Sherwood welcoming the crowd ''to come and spend some time with the exhibit, going through the exhibit and thinking about the Spokane Tribe of Indians.''

The display will remain up throughout the season.