Sports teams with Native American names continue to address criticism from activists with the Washington Redskins changing their name and the Cleveland Indians getting rid of their longtime mascot, Chief Wahoo. The decisions come, in many cases, while polls show Native Americans often supporting the names for their local teams.
Now the Kansas City Chiefs are changing several longtime traditions for the upcoming season.
“In 2014, we began a dialogue with a group of local leaders from diverse American Indian backgrounds and experiences,” the team said in a news release. “As an organization, our goal was to gain a better understanding of the issues facing American Indian communities in our region and explore opportunities to both raise awareness of American Indian cultures and celebrate the rich traditions of tribes with a historic connection to the Kansas City area.”
The team recently consulted a national organization that works closely on issues affecting American Indian people and tribes. “Based on those conversations, as well as the work we’ve done alongside the local working group over the past six years, we will be adopting the following measures/policies going forward,” the team said:
- While we have discouraged fans from wearing headdresses for several years, effective immediately, fans will be prohibited from wearing headdresses into the stadium.
- Face painting is still allowed for all fans, but any face paint that is styled in a way that references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions will be prohibited.
- Fans will be asked to remove any American Indian-themed face paint before passing security screening outside the stadium.
- We are engaged in a thorough review process of the Arrowhead Chop and plan to have additional discussions in the future.
- We are exploring all options for a modified engagement moment from the Drum Deck that maintains a unifying effect between our fans and our players but better represents the spiritual significance of the drum in American Indian cultures.
- This includes discussions around how to shift the focus of the drum to something that symbolizes the heartbeat of the stadium.
- As allowed by NFL guidelines and the City of Kansas City Health Department for the coronavirus-impacted 2020 season, we will continue with many of the traditions that we have introduced over the past six years, including the Blessing of the Four Directions, the Blessing of the Drum, as well as inviting members of tribes with a historic connection to our region to participate in our American Indian Heritage Month Game
- Finally, we are exploring the creation of a more formalized education program with input from both our local and national partners.
“We are grateful for the meaningful conversations we have had with all of these American Indian leaders,” the team said. “ It is important that we continue the dialogue on these significant topics, and we look forward to continuing to work together in the future.
The Chiefs are taking comments from fans in support or disapproval of the new bans. Fans can contact them at 1-816-920-4237. The email information on the Chiefs website has been disabled.
Fans may also comment through the Chiefs’ social media accounts:
Facebook : Post to their Wall
Twitter : Tweet to them
Instagram : Link
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice