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Release the Ad: Kraken Partner With Indian Tribe for New Patch

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Here’s a new one: The Kraken, whose jerseys have so far been ad-free, announced yesterday that they’ll begin wearing an ad patch next season — and in what is apparently the first deal of its kind, the advertiser is the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.

The deal marks the first time that a Big Four pro team has worn the name of a Native tribe to promote the tribe itself, rather than to advertise a casino (as is the case on the Coyotes’ home jerseys).

You can see the patch on the jerseys above. Here’s a closer look:

The Kraken had already established a relationship with the Muckleshoot tribe before the team played its first game, and before the name “Kraken” had even been chosen. In the summer of 2019 — more than two years before the team’s on-ice debut, when the franchise was still known simply as NHL Seattle — team execs convened a listening session with 30 local Indigenous leaders. That same year, during the construction of the Kraken’s arena, which lies on the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish people, members of the tribe blessed the grounds. The team also commissioned Native artwork for the arena, and a land-acknowledgment video is played before every Kraken home game. (If you’re unfamilar with land acknowledgments, look here.)

As part of the new ad deal, additional artwork celebrating Indigenous people will be featured at the Kraken’s arena, a multi-sport court will be built on the Muckleshoot reservation, and the team will create programs to increase hockey opportunities for Indigenous youth.

I still wish teams wouldn’t sell space on their jerseys to outside interests, but this uni ad is clearly less distasteful than most of the others. It’s not quite as high-minded as the Jazz’s cancer charity patch (now appearing in its sixth consecutive season, and counting), but it definitely seems closer to that end of the spectrum than to, say, an ad for a sports book or a bank. Or to put it another way, it seems to be motivated at least as much by civic interests as by commercial ones.

Or at least that’s how it seems to me, especially after reading more about the deal (there’s good coverage here, here, and here). But I’d be interested in hearing how all of this is being received by Pacific Northwesterners, Kraken fans, and Native Americans. How do you feel about this ad patch?

Meanwhile: If, like me, you’d never even heard the word “Muckleshoot” until now, you can learn more about the tribe here and here.


Comments (25)

    Perhaps it is the anti-ad skeptic in me, but the first thing that auto filled when I started typing Muckleshoot into my search bar was a casino. The ad doesn’t say casino, but given that is the first thing that pops up when doing an internet search, would the local Seattle population who will mostly see this ad immediately think casino upon seeing it?
    I mean it is certainly better than all but the Jazz’s jersey ad. But my thought is that if Seattle is getting paid to wear it, then the tribe sees this ad to be in their best financial interests, right?
    If I saw this without context or knowledge of the situation I’d assume it wasn’t even an ad, bur rather a patch honoring a local tribe. But as a uni watcher I can’t divorce the ad context.
    Like Paul I think my final feelings will be better shaped by understanding local reaction to it. Do Seattleites automatically see this as a casino ad?

    From the Seattle Times article:

    “The Muckleshoot Casino was among the Kraken’s first sponsors, hammering out the partnership in summer 2019 when the expansion squad was still known as NHL Seattle and announcing a deal in October of that year. The casino has signage throughout Climate Pledge Arena and the ‘Muckleshoot Casino Power Play’ also gets announced over the public address system whenever the Kraken begin a man advantage.”

    I agree, this sounds better than some ad deals. However, the Muckleshoot name was still used in ads regularly to promote is casino and concert hall, at least when I lived in the region a decade ago. So, my first association with the name is still promoting 80s and 90s touring rock and hip hop acts, though I never lived close to it’s tribal lands or reservation.

    I live in the Northwest. Washington State. Muckleshoot Tribe from the Auburn WA area 30 miles south of Seattle, is well respected and has tribal based programs for education, families, veterans, medicinal and more. I suspect here in Washington when “Muckleshoot”is in the news, the association is the casino. As patch ads go….it’s the lesser of many evils.

    Logos and memorial patches belong on uniforms. Almost everything else is clutter. I’m not even a huge fan of the Captains patches, Man of the year, etc. It just gets to be too much.

    Pretty soon it will start looking like a Mexican second-division kit — all ads and it will be hard to find the number/crest.

    Well, it seems to be a mutual thing with the team donating a court and investing in hockey programs for the Muckleshoot people. And at least the patch does not say casino. But the sweater looks better without any extra patch. The Kraken is one of my favorite NHL uniforms. The Jazz remains the prime example of how to use uniform space for a good cause, though. This one comes in as a distant second.

    I’m afraid, based on the few comments here and 15 minutes of i-net research, that this is a clever way for the Muckleshoot tribe to advertise their casino and other economic ventures and the Kraken to profit without making it seem like an advertisement. The tribe paid to have that patch on the jersey. An offer by the Kraken to place the patch free of charge to honor their relationship with the Muckleshoot would have eliminated most suspicion. As it is, I am not sure this is any better, and it may be worse, than an ad for Boeing. The latter is in your face marketing. The former has the hallmark of a coverup.

    I lived in Seattle from 2010-2018. As soon as I saw today’s post, I thought it was the Muckleshoot casino. My mind went straight there. Everyone involved with crafting the deal knows this will be the effect.

    Yes, it’s great that it’s just about the tribe and not the casino. Yes, it’s great that the tribe gets facilities and cultural understanding. Yes, it can almost feel like a commemorative insignia rather than an ad patch. Yes, the Kraken are a more politically empathetic franchise than most. And yes, it’s even great that the patch is embroidered rather than plastic or sublimated.

    Still, the Muckleshoot Nation and the Kraken have engineered a super-smart and at least a little-bit cynical end-around here.

    I’m born and raised in Washington. I even technically lived on the reservation for a couple of years. You would be hard pressed to find many people who don’t associate Muckleshoot with the casino. When we go there, we even say we’re going the Muckleshoot or the ‘shoot. It’s an ad patch for the casino. Why not do something that represents all of the tribes in the PNW?

    I want to begin by acknowledging that I am NOT Indigenous, but I am a historian and scholar of colonialism and Indigenous topics.

    I believe that the way the conversation thus far is separating the tribe from their business ventures and arguing that one is appropriate while one is icky is missing a big piece. While we can debate the appropriateness/ethics of gambling and sports, it is important to acknowledge that on many reservations, the casino is the entire economy. Many of the institutions that are public for us that are off the reservation, such as schools, clinics, fire and police departments, are fully supported through the profits from casinos and other economic ventures that leverage a reservation’s status as not being subject to state laws, a legal status established by the Supreme Court in 1832 through the case Worcester v. Georgia.

    Moreover, while there is much debate within Indian Country about the ethics of a casino-driven economy, it also important to contextualize these sovereign economic strategies. The reservation system, by design, limits economic sovereignty. It creates systems in which Indigenous people are dependent on the federal government for deeply unhealthy food subsidies, subpar health services, and other exploitive relationships. While casinos are, in many ways, the pinnacle of exploitive capitalism, it is important to remember that their popularity as an economic solution in Indian Country is directly connected to the ways in which Indigenous economies are SEVERELY constrained by the reservation system.

    There is no question the casino has helped the tribe. They also have an amphitheater and a horse racing track. It has helped improve housing, education, and medical needs. And the tribal patch is only going to increase gambling at the casino. How many people ever heard of Muckleshoot prior to this? There are four major casinos in the “Seattle” area; the Tulalip, Snoqualmie, and Emerald Queen. All are competing for gambling dollars. I’d say they’re money was well spent.

    100% this is the correct answer.

    Economic development opportunities are one of the cornerstones of ending poverty and ensuring long-term prosperity without relying on handouts from the government.

    Where I live, that means energy and pipelines, casinos and resorts, tourism, wineries. The reserve that I live closest to has built a casino as well as a very large mall and office park. It won’t fix every problem on the reserve but alleviating poverty will go a hell of a long way.

    Seems like an attempt to have people say “well at least its not as bad as a casino ad” while still being a casino ad.


    While not a uniform patch, the Oneida Nation has been a Packers sponsor for years. Before the direct ties to gaming were allowed, there were still inside the stadium, etc (notably on the time of day clock which used to be there.

    Visitors from outside the area may not have made the association with gaming, but locals would have

    Sorta related. Probably already mentioned before.

    Inspired by the passing of former player Gino Odjick, who was born in a reserve in Quebec (Maniwaki) , the Canucks will be wearing this warm-up jersey on March 2nd :


    It was designed by Odjick’s cousin, Jay Odjick. Pretty cool!

    By the way, haven’t posted in years. How do you insert links here? Thanks!

    Oh and, along a whole bunch of (very cool) merchandise, you can get your very own jersey for… $750 CA!!!!!!! (that’s $554 US)


    Feels like A LOT. Anyone knows if those warm up jerseys are usually available for retail? If so, are they typically that expensive?

    Seems like a way to get around the guidelines all the major sports have about not letting gambling ads on jerseys.

    Definitely a word association deal as the Muckleshoot name is widely known for their casino as others have mentioned.

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