The Kansas City Chiefs have released a statement announcing that they will introduce and implement a number of measures to better respect and understand the American Indian community, including banning the use of headdresses in and around their stadium.
The franchise say that they have been in contact with ‘a group of local leaders from diverse American Indian backgrounds and experiences’ in a bid to get a better grasp on the problems that American Indian communities face, as well as find opportunities to raise awareness of the cultures and traditions of tribes in connection to the Kansas City area.
Prior to this ban, the Chiefs had discouraged fans from wearing headdresses inside the stadium and now face painting that appropriates American Indian cultures will also be outlawed. The Super Bowl champions also say they will talk to fans and local community leaders to review the use of the celebratory ‘Arrowhead Chop’, which is a wave and chant combination completed by Chiefs fans at the start of every game.
“These meaningful conversations with the American Indian Community Working Group helped us educate ourselves and our fans, and our partnership with these leaders has helped guide our American Indian Heritage Month Games, as well as the ceremonial Blessing of the Drum and the Four Directions of Arrowhead Stadium,” the statement read.
“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.
In addition to that ongoing collaboration, we recently expanded our efforts through consultation with a national organization that works closely on issues affecting American Indian people and tribes. Based on those conversations, as well as the work we’ve done alongside the local working group over the past six years, we will be adopting the following measures/policies going forward:
While we have discouraged fans from wearing headdresses for several years, effective immediately, fans will be prohibited from wearing headdresses into the stadium.
Face painting is still allowed for all fans, but any face paint that is styled in a way that references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions will be prohibited.
Fans will be asked to remove any American Indian-themed face paint prior to passing security screening outside the stadium.
We are engaged in a thorough review process of the Arrowhead Chop and plan to have additional discussions in the future.
We are exploring all options for a modified engagement moment from the Drum Deck that maintains a unifying effect between our fans and our players but better represents the spiritual significance of the drum in American Indian cultures.
This includes discussions around how to shift the focus of the drum to something that symbolizes the heartbeat of the stadium.
As allowed by NFL guidelines and the City of Kansas City Health Department for the coronavirus-impacted 2020 season, we will continue with many of the traditions that we have introduced over the past six years, including the Blessing of the Four Directions, the Blessing of the Drum, as well as inviting members of tribes with a historic connection to our region to participate in our American Indian Heritage Month Game.
Finally, we are exploring the creation of a more formalized education program with input from both our local and national partners.
We are grateful for the meaningful conversations we have had with all of these American Indian leaders. It is important that we continue the dialogue on these significant topics, and we look forward to continuing to work together in the future.”
The announcement comes a day after Chiefs star quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes asserted his intentions to continue to use his platform to speak out against social injustice. Talking on the Peter King Podcast, the 24-year-old committed to take as much action as he could against racism and other issues.
“With everything that was happening with the George Floyd murder and everything like that, I think we knew that it was something we needed to do and say in order to get the response we wanted from the NFL,” he said.
“And I think the video that we made really helped and activated the conversation to take the next step and take action.
“That’s what you’re seeing now, the action part of it that’s coming from us.”
“We’re trying to make sure we take action and not let this moment be forgotten,” Mahomes said. “Football is obviously super important but helping out the world is more important and we are going to try and do that every single day.”
“Obviously I love football, but I love trying to make the world a better place even more,” Mahomes added. “Growing up how I’ve grown up, and having a black dad and white mum, I never was treated any differently and I feel like no one should be treated any differently no matter where they come from.”