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On Nov. 20, The Kansas City Chiefs hosted The Philadelphia Eagles in a highly anticipated Super Bowl LVII rematch on Monday Night Football.
As is customary during Chiefs home games, thousands of roaring fans participated in a polarizing “Arrowhead chop” tradition that continues to divide.
“I think that’s the only thing that really bothers me about that whole thing is that, and I don’t know where it came from. And I don’t really fully understand it, but it is almost like a mockery,” said Sinquah, a member of the Hopi-Tewa and Choctaw nations.
Where did the Kansas City Chiefs war chant and Arrowhead chop come from?
According to PBS, fans of the Chiefs long ago adopted the chanting and arm movement symbolizing the brandishing of a tomahawk that began at Florida State University in the 1980s — though the school has an agreement with the Seminole tribe to use the moniker and tribal imagery.
After establishing an American Indian Community Working Group in 2014, the team would go on to ban headdresses and face paint at games. They also retired the use of Warpaint as an ambassador of the Chiefs, among other things.
In 2020, the Chiefs banned headdresses and war paint in the stadium and pushed for cheerleaders to do the “chop” with a closed fist instead of an open hand. However, that hasn’t stopped the thousands upon thousands of fans from engaging in the original gesture.
George Floyd influenced the Washington D.C. football team name change
In a Dec. 2020 interview with the Associated Press, Washington Commander’s team owner Paul Dolan cited the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis as an “awakening or epiphany” that contributed to the team’s decision to change the name, along with conversations with the Native American community.
This past February at Super Bowl LVII in Arizona, where at least a quarter of the land base is tribal reservations, there were complicated emotions for the NFL involving Native and Indigenous cultures but disdain for those cultures being appropriated.
“There’s no respectful way to mascot us or belittle us”
Native American advocates have long called for the “immediate retirement” of the NFL team’s name, logo, the team’s “war chant” and the “tomahawk chop.”
“There’s no respectful way to mascot us or belittle us and use us for profit,” said Amanda Blackhorse, founder of Arizona to Rally Against Native Mascots (Az Rally).
“I’m confident the Kansas City team and the NFL hear the resistance,” Blackhorse added. “After all, groups like Not in Our Honor and the Kansas City Indian Center protest every single home game.”
Blackhorse told ABC News, “The anti-Native mascot movement has always been about the betterment of our Native people, not hatred towards others who are football fans.”
“We want to live in a world where our children can attend school and feel included and not met with reenactments of fake war dances on the football field,” said Blackstone.
Kansas City Chiefs is “Not In Our Honor”
With pop singer Taylor Swift attending Chiefs games with regularity this season, Rhonda LeValdo, the founder of “Not In Our Honor,” told TMZ she hopes Swift will wield her influence.
“We remain hopeful that an outside influence like Ms. Swift could be an ally for us in moving the conversation forward on why the chop is a racist act.”
According to the Chiefs website, in 2020, they were “engaged in a thorough review process of the Arrowhead Chop and plan to have additional discussions in the future.”