Native Americans say Chiefs' name and Tomahawk chop are now extra hurtful

Native Americans say Chiefs' name and Tomahawk chop are now extra hurtful
Native Americans renew protests of Kansas City Chiefs mascot

Native Americans in Missouri want the Kansas City Chiefs to get rid of their name, mascot, and “war chant,” where they do the “tomahawk chop” hand gesture, mimicking the traditional Indigenous single-handed axe.

Rhonda LeValdo, the founder of the Indigenous activist group Not In Our Honor, said people are trying to be “really positive” about Kansas City as sports bring people together - but they are renewing their call in the wake of national attention triggered by their upcoming Super Bowl appearance.

“It’s not bringing our people into this celebration together. Really, it’s hurting us more because now it’s the bigger spotlight where you’re seeing this all over the world,” LeValdo said, according to the Associated Press.

LeValdo and other Kansas City Tribes will be demonstrating outside of Glendale, Arizona’s State Farm Stadium.

Mark Donovan, Kansas City franchise president, said he honors their right to protest.

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“We also respect that we need to continue to educate and raise awareness of the Native American culture and the things we do to celebrate, that we’ve done more over the last seven years — I think — than any other team to raise awareness and educate ourselves,” Donovan said.

The Chiefs attempted to raise concerns about the cultural insensitivities going back over a decade, but they always seem to stop short of changing the team name and fan gestures.

In 2013, they created the American Indian Community Working Group, where Native Americans serve as advisers to the team on the best ways to promote tribes.

And years later, in 2020, the Chiefs banned fans from wearing headdresses, paint and culturally-offensive clothing at Arrowhead Stadium.

Outrage and protest of sports teams appropriating Indigenous cultures and images have gone on for several decades – and it’s not just the Chiefs.

Native Americans said iconography and words that have Native meanings is demeaning and promote racial stereotypes.

Some major sports teams have said the mascots are a way to commemorate the respect for the tribes. Still, following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, sports teams had to rectify the issues.

For example, the Cleveland Indians baseball team became the Guardians in November 2021.

They also got rid of the Chief Wahoo logo, which was a caricature of a Native American.

One of the most prolific victories was when Washington got rid of the “Redskins” name, which is considered a racial slur, and their logo after close to nine decades. They are now the Commanders.

The Super Bowl, which is playing out at State Farm Stadium on Sunday, February 12, happens to be in a state that is home to 22 Native American tribes who oversee about a quarter of the land.

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