Spokane Indians Honored for Commitment to Community

November 8, 2023 - Northwest League (NWL) - Spokane Indians News Release

The Spokane Indians were honored yesterday at baseball's annual Fall Meetings with the 2023 CommUNITY Champion Award in recognition of the team's continuing commitment to the Spokane region.

"As the community's baseball team since 1903, we're proud to serve our entire area with several community campaigns, initiatives, and events," said Otto Klein, Spokane Indians Senior Vice President. "We're honored to call Spokane home, and committed to improving our community for years to come."

Professional baseball has a long and storied history in Spokane, and after 37 years as a short-season affiliate in the Northwest League, the Indians returned to full season ball in 2021. The club has taken advantage of the longer season to extend its impact in the Spokane community through a variety of programs and initiatives.

As a leader in the Spokane community, the Indians have acknowledged the importance of respect and inclusion with the team's namesake, the Spokane Tribe of Indians, setting an example for respectful relationships with Native communities in sports.

Their efforts to collaborate with the tribe include an annual Native Culture Day at Avista Stadium, which in 2023 included a ceremonial first pitch by Junior Miss Spokane and Spokane Tribal Member, Arawyn Dillon, and the singing of the National Anthem by Spokane Tribal Member Dakota Moses, who performed the song in Salish.

In 2022, the team and Tribe worked together to develop an official Land Acknowledgement (believed to be the first of its kind in Minor League Baseball), recognizing that Avista Stadium resides on the unceded homeland of the Spokane Tribe of Indians, and in 2023, a permanent marker featuring this land acknowledgement was installed just outside the main gates in the Hall of Fame plaza.

The club also honors those local roots on the field as their jerseys have Spokane written in Salish (Sp'q'n'i), and after the Spokane Tribe's own Wellpinit Boys Basketball Team won their first Washington 1B State Championship, each player received an Indians jersey and participated in a celebratory pre-game ceremony at Avista Stadium.

While their efforts with the Spokane Tribe are important to the club and community, the Indians are active participants in the greater Spokane community all year long.

In 2017, the Indians launched the Redband Rally campaign with the City of Spokane to bring awareness to the native Redband Rainbow Trout. The project was designed to rally the community to protect and keep the Spokane River clean. In 2023, the team launched the first annual Redband Rally River Clean Up Day to promote a clean and healthy Spokane River, with the team's staff and volunteers removing hundreds of pounds of trash from the river to protect its health and vibrancy. The baseball team contributes thousands of dollars each year to the redband rally fund, supporting local Spokane River habitat projects and events.

Launched in 2021, Spokane's Operation Fly Together campaign stems from a historic first-of-its-kind agreement between Fairchild Air Force Base and the team. The campaign celebrates the KC-135 tanker plane and helps better the lives of the 40,000 veterans from all services of the military that have settled in the Spokane region. The Indians auction off specialty jerseys modeled after the current U.S. Air Force Service Dress Uniforms at the close of each season, with the proceeds benefitting the Operation Fly Together Veterans Fund. The team also hosted its second Fairchild Deployed Families Night at Avista Stadium, treating over 120 family members of deployed personnel to exclusive seating for the game.

Several other promotional campaigns and events at Avista Stadium generated much-needed funding for several programs in the Spokane community in 2023.

The team played host to five SCRAPS Bark in the Park nights with all dog ticket sales being donated to local animal shelters. The Indians held four jersey auctions in 2023 benefitting the Spokane Indians Youth Baseball & Softball program (including players with special needs), the MultiCare Inland Northwest Foundation, the Redband Rally and the Operation Fly Together Veteran's Funds.

After devastating wildfires took a toll on the Spokane area, the club raised money for those impacted by the blaze by hosting a garage sale of leftover giveaway items, baseball equipment and other items from the ballpark to raise over $10,000 in a single day.

The Indians' Take Me Out to the Ballgame program donated thousands of tickets to non-profits and local charities through the Inland Northwest, as fans and partners alike can sponsor a fan or group and bring them out to an Indians game.

In addition to their financial giving, the Indians' quartet of mascots combined to make 320 appearances throughout the Spokane community free of charge. Among those appearances were stops by Indians players and front office staff members to visit patients at Providence Sacred Heart Children's Hospital and Shriner's Childrens Spokane as part of the Molina Healthcare Care-A-Van tour. The patients and their families were surprised with Indians gear and tickets to a game as the players and mascots were able to interact with young patients in General Pediatrics, Pediatric Oncology and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, as well as a visit to the Behavioral and Educational Skills Training (BEST) program at Sacred Heart.

The Indians also made an impact on youth baseball in their community by renovating five youth baseball and softball fields as part of the team's annual Community Fields Project at Plante's Ferry Sports Complex. On June 7, more than 50 volunteers, the Indians' front office staff and members of the grounds crew refurbished the fields and reaffirmed their commitment to supporting grassroots baseball and softball in the Spokane region.

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