The Super Bowl’s Kansas City Chiefs Are a Cruel Insult to Native Americans
We have had beer thrown at us, people walking up to us doing the chop, people yelling in our faces asking why we are here, and telling us to go home. Guess what? We are home.
We, the Not in Our Honor Coalition, have been protesting Kansas City football’s appropriation of our culture since 2005, and there have been many other Native people raising their voices against them long before us, like Suzan Shown Harjo, who started the toppling of the Washington, D.C. football team’s racist Native slur of a name.
This is Indigenous land, our country before it was stolen with treaty promises still not upheld. Native nations are sovereign and should be seen as such, but are not. A perfect example of a treaty obligation that was disregarded: granting the Cherokee Nation one congressional delegate. That still has yet to be honored.
With another Super Bowl coming up, the Kansas City football team once again chooses to make a mockery of Native cultures and people with their “arrowhead” chop, offensive name, and overall bastardizing of our traditions. There is statistical data that shows it has an impact on our people. But why do we need to prove this with quantitative data? If someone says it hurts them, we should believe them! No other group of people needs to prove this with numbers to say, “Oh okay, I believe them now.”
A historical perspective on our Native Nations needs to be understood by the public, which can be seen in the new documentary Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting. There was a massive holocaust carried out against our people. Our lands were illegally stolen, our children were taken away to boarding schools, our ceremonies were forbidden, and our languages were told not to be spoken or face consequences like being beaten or having mouths washed out with soap.
So, we ask: Why is it okay for non-Native people to play Indian when we were not allowed to practice our culture?
This is not about being politically correct. It is about understanding the atrocities and continued historical trauma we as Native people face through the stereotypes that Kansas City football perpetuates.
This Super Bowl will be seen all over the world. To many countries, they will see this as an OK thing to do. But we are trying to yell as loud as we can: It is not!
Stop appropriating Native culture, Kansas City! Do the right thing: Change the name. If you kept the Chiefs name, would you change it to the KC Police Chiefs? Of course not. So why is one OK and the other not? People say it is just a name, but it’s so much more.
In recent years, since the murder of George Floyd, this country has recognized many racial injustices as forms of racism. Why is it taking so long for people to understand that this name, these antics, are all forms of racism against Native Nations? Native people deserve to be treated like human beings, not as “its.” Kansas City can look so much better by including Native people without denigrating us.
We are the first people of this land. We never left. We are still here, and will continue to be here to represent our ancestors who were massacred. We honor them by being here and continuing to fight for our identity.
The award-winning documentary feature Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting will open exclusively in movie theaters beginning on March 31 in New York, followed by other cities throughout April. For more go to www.imaginingtheindianfilm.org.
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