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Volume 27 No. 32
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Chiefs To Integrate "Subtle" Changes Within Native American Imagery

The Chiefs are implementing some changes to their gameday presentation for tonight's season opener against the Texans following the move to ban headdresses and Native American face paint this season, but they will be so subtle that some fans "probably won't notice" them, according to Sam Mellinger of the K.C. STAR. Native Americans prior to tonight's game will "bless the big ceremonial drum like always." Prior to the drumbeat beginning, an "announcement will be made that incorporating the drum into the game-day experience is a 'privilege' and that fans are invited to join as they beat the drum." Cheerleaders "will then do the same chop motion, but with a closed fist instead of open palm." Chiefs President Mark Donovan: "Admittedly it's a subtle change. But it's a step, and it's a change." Mellinger writes the Chiefs are "essentially splitting the middle here." They can be "fairly criticized for that, but they also have a constituency to consider." Donovan: "This is a process. This is years. We're going to do this, and hopefully it's well received and we'll continue to do more" (K.C. STAR, 9/10). The AP's Heather Hollingsworth noted the Chiefs' actions have "pleased Native Americans as a good first step," but they have "frustrated some of the 17,000 fans who will be in the stands." The team also is "discussing the future of its tomahawk chop celebration amid complaints that it’s racist." The Chiefs are among the pro sports franchises "facing increased scrutiny" regarding their nickname after Washington this summer "chose to drop Redskins ... after a long and often contentious dialogue with fans and the public" (AP, 9/9).

MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE: A K.C. STAR editorial states the Chiefs should not play the drumbeat and also should "let the offensive tomahawk chop go away on its own, which it will." The editorial: "These would be symbolic steps, of course. But in this moment, symbols are important. They help change thinking, which can lead to tolerance and understanding." The team still has work to do "to finally call a halt to the Chiefs’ racially insensitive traditions" (K.C. STAR, 9/10).