The National Football League Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs will ban fans from wearing headdresses, American Indian-themed face paint, and other cultural misapropriations at future games, the team said in a statement Thursday.
The move comes as many professional sports teams are examining Native American names and imagery in logos, merchandise and their names. Earlier, the NFL’s former Washington Redskins settled a long-running beef by dropping “Redskins” from their team name. They have yet to come up with a new title. Baseball’s Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves, and the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers face similar issues.
Kansas City said it “engaged in a thorough review process of the Arrowhead Chop and plan to have additional discussions in the future.” The up-and-down arm movement performed by Chiefs fans is viewed by some as making fun of Native American culture, as it references the former practice of scalping.
The Chiefs statement continued: “In 2014, we began a dialogue with a group of local leaders from diverse American Indian backgrounds and experiences,” the statement said. “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.
“… Our discussions also led us to discourage fans from wearing ceremonial headdresses and American Indian-themed face paint in our stadium. We are grateful to the members of the working group for their counsel and collaboration, and we look forward to continuing our partnership.”
The statement also said the Chiefs consulted with a national organization that “works closely on issues affecting American Indian people and tribes.”
“Fans will be asked to remove any American Indian-themed face paint prior to passing security screening outside the stadium,” said one of the statement’s eight bullet-pointed changes.
“We are grateful for the meaningful conversations we have had with all of these American Indian leaders,” the statement 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.”