Native American group renews calls for Chiefs to drop name, logo as Super Bowl LVIII start looms


Because the Kansas City Chiefs put together to compete in Sunday’s Tremendous Bowl, a gaggle of Native People is renewing their name for the staff to drop its title, mascot and fan-driven “tomahawk chop” ritual.

Activist Rhonda LeValdo is likely one of the people main the struggle to see the usage of Native American imagery and references in sports activities come to an finish. She is the founding father of a Kansas Metropolis-based group referred to as Not In Our Honor. 

LeValdo and dozens of Indigenous activists have traveled to Las Vegas, the positioning of Super Bowl LVIII, to protest and demand the staff alter its nickname, abandon its emblem, and stop sure sport rituals they view as offensive. Protesters had the identical aim just a few years in the past once they organized an indication exterior Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, forward of the beginning of Tremendous Bowl LV.

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Rhonda LeValdo on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, in Lawrence, Kansas. Levaldo needs the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs to vary its title, emblem and sport rituals that she and different activists say are offensive. (AP Picture/Ed Zurga)

The Chiefs misplaced that Tremendous Bowl to the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I’ve spent a lot of my private money and time on this challenge. I actually hoped that our children wouldn’t need to cope with this,” LeValdo mentioned. “However right here we go once more.”

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LeValdo, who’s Acoma Pueblo, has been within the Kansas Metropolis space for greater than twenty years.

Some sports activities groups have argued their mascots are supposed to honor and respect the tribes.

The protests have led to some change. In November 2021, then-Cleveland Indians baseball staff modified its title to the Guardians. The staff additionally stopped utilizing its Chief Wahoo mascot.

The 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis prompted Washington’s NFL franchise to drop “Redskins” from its title. Many Native American teams and others thought of the time period a racial slur. After a season of merely being known as the Washington Soccer, in February 2022 the staff turned the Commanders.

Fan watches a Kansas City Chiefs pregame

A Chiefs fan earlier than the Minnesota Vikings sport on Oct. 2, 2011, in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri. (AP Picture/Charlie Riedel, File)

Starting in 2020, followers had been barred from sporting headdresses or face paint referencing or appropriating Native American tradition in Arrowhead Stadium, although some nonetheless have.

“Finish Racism” was written in the long run zone. Gamers put decals on their helmets with related slogans or names of African People who had been killed by cops.

“We had been like, ‘Wow, you guys put this on the helmets and on the sphere, however have a look at your title and what you guys are doing,’” LeValdo mentioned.

The Chiefs retired their mascot “Warpaint” in 2021.

A Kansas City Chiefs fan

An in depth view of the Chiefs emblem on a fan previous to the AFC Championship Sport in opposition to the Cincinnati Bengals at GEHA Subject at Arrowhead Stadium on Jan. 29, 2023, in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri. (David Eulitt/Getty Photos)

Nonetheless, the staff’s title and arrowhead emblem stay, as does the “tomahawk chop,” during which followers chant and swing a forearm up and down in a ritual that’s not distinctive to the Chiefs.

Singer Taylor Swift’s relationship with Travis Kelce has introduced a brand new stage of consideration to the Chiefs. In gentle of the heightened consideration, LeValdo mentioned her fellow activists made an indication for this weekend studying, “Taylor Swift doesn’t do the chop. Be like Taylor.”

“We had been watching. We had been seeking to see if she was going to do it. However she by no means did,” LeValdo mentioned.

The Chiefs say the staff was named after Kansas Metropolis Mayor H. Roe Bartle, who was nicknamed “The Chief” and helped deliver the franchise to town within the early Sixties.

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In addition they say they’ve labored lately to get rid of offensive imagery.

“We’ve accomplished extra over the past seven years, I believe, than every other staff to lift consciousness and educate ourselves,” staff President Mark Donovan mentioned previous to Tremendous Bowl LVII in Arizona.

Chiefs helmet

A Kansas Metropolis Chiefs helmet on the Buccaneers sport at Raymond James Stadium on Oct. 2, 2022, in Tampa, Florida. (Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Photos)

In 2014, the staff created the American Indian Group Working Group, which features a group of Native People that serves as advisers to the staff. The representatives have appeared at Chiefs house video games within the years since.

Throughout Chiefs house video games, LeValdo and different Indigenous activists stand exterior Arrowhead with indicators saying, “Cease the Chop” and “This Does Not Honor Us.”

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For LeValdo, the ache fueling her activism is rooted within the oppression, killing and displacement of her ancestors and the lingering results these injustices have on her group.

“We weren’t even allowed to be Native American. We weren’t allowed to apply our tradition. We weren’t allowed to put on our garments,” she mentioned. “However it’s OK for Kansas Metropolis followers to bang a drum, to put on a headdress after which to behave like they’re honoring us? That doesn’t make sense.”

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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