Washington State Sen. Andy Billig can do nothing about the controversy surrounding the NFL Washington Redskins’ nickname other than have an opinion.
But, as co-owner of the Spokane Indians minor league baseball team, he is in position to deal with any problems Native Americans may have with that name.
Indian Country Today Media Network reports Billig has.
In 2006, the Spokane Indians organization began exploring options for a new team logo and met with the Spokane Tribe of Indians tribal council and the tribe’s culture committee. Through that eight-month process, the baseball organization came up with a new logo depicting a red “S” with an eagle feather accent.
The baseball team worked with five tribes in the Spokane area through the Upper Columbia United Tribes and specifically with the Spokane Tribe of Indians since its name is derived directly from their nation.
“We use no Native American imagery associated with our team,” Billig said. “We told the Spokane tribe, ‘If we need to change our name because it is offending people in our community, we will consider that. How could we not consider changing the name of it’s offensive?”
Reporter Rodney Harwood says because the team conducted itself in a respectful manner, the Spokane Tribe of Indians came up with new logos in both English and the Salish language, which is the regional language of the Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Colville and Kalispell nations.
The baseball team will use the Salish logo as its major imagery on home uniforms in 2014.
“I learned so much during this process,” Billig told Harwood and ICTMN. “This collaboration with the Spokane Tribe is the greatest accomplishment of my professional career with the team. It encompassed so much of what we’re about as an organization and a community. It was about respect and there was this added bonus: it was good for business even though that’s not what we went into it for.”
Billig’s opinion on Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder’s refusal to change the team’s name? “Of course the name is wrong,” he said.
- Vince Devlin