John Lyall’s Indigenous Roots Weave Into Seattle Seawolves New City Kit

“Orcas or killer whales are known as Maxinuxw to the Kwakwaka’wakw. ‘Maxinuxw’ roughly translates to ‘side by side,’ as the orcas travel, live, and hunt together side by side. As the Maxinuxw travel side by side, so do our Seawolves as they travel, live, and hunt together, playing our majestic game.”
John Lyall, Kwakwaka’wakw

On June 22nd, the Seattle Seawolves are set to present more than a display of their athletic prowess. They will be introducing their new city kit, a tapestry of local heritage and unity that reflects the team and the city’s cultural mosaic. John Lyall, also known as Mupenkin from the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, brings his deep roots in rugby and indigenous artistry to the forefront as the designer of this jersey. A symbol of the team’s spirit and a nod to Seattle’s diversity, the kit is Lyall’s tribute to the community and the sport that brings them together.

Lyall’s connection to the Seawolves runs through a shared passion for rugby and a meaningful relationship with former coach Phil Mack. His decades of merging the discipline of indigenous art with his educational and rugby endeavors have equipped him with the unique tools to design the Seawolves’ city kit.

Drawing inspiration from his roots, Lyall incorporates the vibrant and storied art of the Northwest coast into his design. For him, the symmetry and balance found in indigenous art aren’t just aesthetic choices but represent a deeper connection to his community and history. The new kit features the Maxinuxw, or orca – a creature revered by the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation and symbolic of unity and collective strength. This mirrors the teamwork inherent in rugby and is resonant with the Seawolves’ ethos.

With artistic talent coursing through his family, Lyall is proud to showcase the almost style of his ancestors. This style, characterized by bold use of color and form, celebrates beauty and serves as a vessel for the oral histories that are central to his people’s identity.

The jersey is also an acknowledgment of the local tribes in the Seattle area, a design that Lyall regards as a “valued visitor” in their territories. It’s a piece that brings the narrative of his culture to the rugby pitch, hoping to resonate with the diverse membership of the team, many of whom are indigenous themselves.

Lyall’s artwork honors his recent induction into the North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame. The design reflects a commitment to moving “side by side” – a philosophy that aligns with both the Seawolves and the orcas that travel the waters of the Pacific Northwest. As the Seawolves prepare to sport their new city kit, they do so not just with a new look, but with a garment that carries the stories, history, and spirit of a community. Through this jersey, Lyall hopes to share the journey of the Seawolves and his people, as they continue to advance together in sport and kinship.

“I’m proud to partner with the Seattle Seawolves and the Duwamish, the Squamish, and Muckleshoot peoples, and hope that the design, the Maxinuxw, can see the Seawolves and our people just traveling and moving together side by side.”
John Lyall, Kwakwaka’wakw

These unique jerseys will be auctioned off, with the highest bidder receiving the jersey worn on June 22nd, signed by the player. Don’t miss the action on Saturday, June 22nd at 7pm as we face Rugby FC Los Angeles. Click the link below to place your bid!

Auction proceeds will support Seawolves community efforts and charitable actions.

John Lyall can be contacted for more information at, and Tinashe Ruiske, who contributed to the kit’s graphic design, at

[original article on Seattle Seawolves website]

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