The Auburn-based Muckleshoot Tribe on Feb. 22 became the Seattle Kraken’s first jersey patch partner, and the first tribe to hold this honor in the NHL. Photo courtesy Seattle Kraken and NHL.

The Auburn-based Muckleshoot Tribe on Feb. 22 became the Seattle Kraken’s first jersey patch partner, and the first tribe to hold this honor in the NHL. Photo courtesy Seattle Kraken and NHL.

Seattle Kraken partners with Auburn-based Muckleshoot Tribe

NHL team will wear Muckleshoot Indian Tribe patch on jerseys next season

The Seattle Kraken, Climate Pledge Arena and the Auburn-based Muckleshoot Indian Tribe announced a multi-year partnership Feb. 22, making the Tribe the Kraken’s first-ever jersey patch partner, and the first Indian Tribe to hold this honor in the NHL.

The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe logo will be placed during the 2023-2024 season on the right chest of the Seattle Kraken home and away jerseys, among the top-sellers in the NHL, sharpening awareness among millions of fans over content platforms across North America and the globe.

“This joyful day brings with it a sense of hope that our young people will see themselves represented by the team in the heart of Seattle and around the country with our Tribe’s logo on the front of every Kraken jersey,” said Muckleshoot Tribal Chairman Jaison Elkins.

The patch’s circular design includes an earthen lighter brown base with snow-covered Mount Rainier rising above a sky-blue backdrop.

The occasion was marked with an on-ice event at Kraken Community Iceplex, with Seattle alternate captain Jordan Eberle speaking on behalf of his teammates alongside dignitaries from the Kraken and Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and performers from the Muckleshoot Tribal School Performing Arts Group.

Muckleshoot leaders praised the Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena for engaging with Indigenous communities across several fronts from “day one,” ranging from a summer 2019 listening session with 30 Indigenous leaders and tribal members to commissioning Indigenous artists to create pieces for both Kraken Community Iceplex and Climate Pledge Arena, to a land-acknowledgment video that plays before every home game.

As part of the partnership, a multi-sport court will be built on the Reservation, and the Kraken will create programs to increase access for Indigenous youth. Fan favorite and Kraken center Morgan Geekie recently visited a tribal school as the kids took part in a floor hockey class.

“It goes all the way back to that listening session and arena blessing back in 2019,” said Donny Stevenson, vice chairman of Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. “That laid the groundwork for the Kraken being involved in a way that, frankly, wasn’t a requirement [of the separate casino sponsorship agreement]. That’s how you build a relationship organically to arrive at the cool, really kind of crazy day we are celebrating Wednesday. You don’t run into that very often, where goals, priorities and values of organizations align so closely.”

Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke said what thrills him is that the franchise’s three highest-profile assets, Climate Pledge Arena, Kraken Community Iceplex and “our beautiful” player jerseys, all have “much deeper meaning for a cause or guiding light, not just a product or service.”

“We launched our franchise with an eye to the future and an acknowledgment of the past,” said Leiweke. “This partnership manifests our gratitude and respect for the Muckleshoot People, past and present, who are the ancestral keepers of the land upon which Climate Pledge Arena sits and we play. We strive to amplify the voices of our Native Community.”

Back in 2019 and again on Feb. 22, Stevenson emphasized the Muckleshoot partnership with the Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena extends to all Indigenous people and not just his tribe.

“In terms of Indigenous identity, the reality is what’s good for one is good for all,” said Stevenson. “When we make decisions as leaders of Indigenous people, it’s not only our family that we have to look at. It’s not only our village we look at. It’s not just the entire community, it’s really the entirety of the Indigenous population. What’s good for Muckleshoot ultimately ends up being good for all of Indian Country.”

New uniform regulations adopted by the NHL allows a jersey patch from a sponsor or partner for the first time. Eleven franchises have added a patch for the 2022-23 NHL season. The Seattle Kraken will begin wearing the new jerseys with right-shoulder patches for the 2023-24 season.

In October 2019, leaders from the Kraken, Oak View Group and Muckleshoot Indian Tribal Council gathered at then-unnamed, still-under-construction Climate Pledge Arena to bless the ground. The arena lies on the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish people.

As Muckleshoot Tribe members performed a blessing song in the Southern Lushootseed language, 72 temporary steel columns supported the arena’s landmark roof so workers could continue excavating 600,000 cubic yards of dirt day and night.

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