Native Americans Are Protesting Kansas City Chiefs Ahead of Super Bowl

Photo credit: Reuters

Native Americans are protesting against the Kansas City Chiefs’ appropriation of Indigenous cultures ahead of the team’s face-off against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Super Bowl on Sunday.

As fans of the Kansas City Chiefs flock to Arizona this week for the Super Bowl, they are bringing with them not just their jerseys and caps, but also the baggage of a controversial celebration: the tomahawk chop.

Native Americans will be pushing again for the Chiefs to abandon the team’s name, mascot and fan-driven “tomahawk chop.”

It’s the same goal indigenous groups had in 2021 when the Chiefs were vying for a second-consecutive Super Bowl win in Tampa, Florida.

Native Americans, led by the coalition Arizona to Rally Against Native Mascots, plan to stake out in protest outside State Farm Stadium in Arizona this week. 

Fights against the appropriation of tribal cultures and images have endured for decades — not just with the Chiefs. 

The push is part of a larger movement to end the use of racist stereotypes and sports traditions rooted in the cultural appropriation of Indigenous people who were systematically wiped out by white colonizers.

Native Americans say using iconography and words with Native connotations demeans them and perpetuates racist stereotypes.

“Native American mascots, including nicknames, logos, and costumes of Native American people in sports, promote stereotypes and dehumanize Native People,” the coalition said in a press release about the demonstration.

The team’s name comes from former Kansas City mayor Harold Roe Bartle, who called himself “chief” as part of the so-called Tribe of Mic-O-Say, which he founded in the 1920s. Mic-O-Say, which is affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America and still exists today, has long-perpetrated made-up narratives, imageries and ceremonies that relied on racist tropes and encouraged its members to “play Indian.”

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