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The Spokane Indians Baseball Club: A Case Study in Tribe and Team Collaboration

Adriane Leithauser, Gonzaga University, Peggy Sue Loroz, Gonzaga University, Matthew Kincanon, Gonzaga University
August 10, 2020
North America
Marketing & Sales, Ethics & Social Justice
11 pages
Native American mascots, marketing, ethics, Jesuit
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.68)
Average rating: 

In the 1970s, schools and sporting teams started responding to concern over using Native American imagery in logos, chants, and mascots. Some moved away from the imagery entirely. Others argued against changes, claiming that terms like Warriors and Braves and images that included headdresses and tomahawks were beloved by fans and complimentary to Native Americans. The Spokane Indians baseball team found a different path from these two alternatives when they collaborated with the Spokane Tribe to use selective imagery that respected the tribe and provided an opportunity for public education. This descriptive case offers students a unique example of how a marketing team navigated cultural changes that affected the acceptability of its brand imagery and encourages students to consider whether this innovative and celebrated response was ethical and aligned with Jesuit business education values. It also offers students the opportunity to suggest how the brand strategy could continue to evolve.

Learning Outcomes: 
  1. Discuss the issues and pressures associated with the use of Native American mascots.
  2. Analyze the response of the Spokane Indians baseball team and tribe to these issues and pressures.
  3. Evaluate whether the response of the baseball team and tribe is ethical and aligned with Jesuit business education principles.
  4. Propose a strategy for moving forward.