KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs are collaborating with the American Indian Community Working Group to address concerns that some of their traditions are considered insensitive to Native Americans.
The organizations first got in touch about three years ago, when there was a renewed national push for the Washington Redskins to change their nickname. Recently, the Chiefs and the group, which works as a liaison with the Native American community, began to work more closely together.
Several events were planned before the Chiefs' game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in observance of American Indian Heritage Month.
Creg Hart, a Cheyenne spiritual leader, performed the Blessing of the Four Directions, and Cheyenne ceremonial leader George Curtis Levi performed a blessing ceremony and honor song.
The Buddy Bond Color Guard of the Cheyenne-Arapahoe Tribes presented the colors for the national anthem, which was performed by the Chickasaw Nation Youth Choir.
The Chiefs' nickname was chosen through a fan contest when the team relocated from Dallas. While many fans chose it based on its Native American connection, it was also chosen in homage to then-Kansas City Mayor H. Roe Bartle — whose own nickname was “The Chief.”
The team has phased out many pregame events that have included Native American iconography over the years. A ceremonial war drum is still beaten by a fan prior to kickoff and fans continue to wave their arms in the “tomahawk chop.”