PHOENIX — As followers of the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs flock to Arizona this week for the Tremendous Bowl, they’re bringing with them not simply their jerseys and caps, but additionally the bags of a controversial celebration: the tomahawk chop.
The chop — during which followers prolong their arms in a chopping movement whereas chanting a made-up warfare music — has for many years been a staple of Kansas Metropolis video games. And for a lot of that point, it has been a supply of delight for a lot of followers.
However for almost so long as the chop has been related to the crew, it has additionally been criticized by some Native Individuals who say it’s an embarrassing caricature of their cultures and is lengthy overdue for retirement. And now, with the N.F.L.’s championship sport going down in a state with one of many largest Native American populations, the problem is effervescent up anew, with a protest deliberate for Tremendous Bowl Sunday.
“They might not be deliberately making enjoyable of our tradition, however that’s what we take it as,” mentioned Rhonda LeValdo, an teacher at Haskell Indian Nations College in Lawrence, Kan., who mentioned she has been protesting the crew’s chop for almost twenty years.
LeValdo, a citizen of the Acoma Pueblo, plans to journey to attend the rally exterior the stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, the place protesters will name for an finish to the chop. They can even search an finish to different options of Chiefs video games, together with a big drum used to hype up the group and the crew’s identify itself.
Nonetheless, the chop and the faux warfare cries are all however certain to be a function of the crew’s matchup in opposition to the Philadelphia Eagles, simply as they have been throughout Kansas Metropolis’s Tremendous Bowl appearances in 2020 and 2021.
Amid a reckoning over racism in 2020, the crew mentioned it might prohibit followers from getting into the stadium whereas carrying headdresses or face paint that appropriated Native American cultures. The crew additionally mentioned it was “engaged in a radical evaluate course of” of the crew’s chopping custom, in addition to the drum.
Nonetheless, the chop has endured, at the same time as groups together with the N.F.L.’s Washington Commanders and the M.L.B.’s Cleveland Guardians have moved away from names, logos and different traditions that many thought-about offensive.
The Chiefs, whose representatives didn’t reply to requests for remark, should not alone in retaining the chop. Groups in different leagues and sports activities, such because the Atlanta Braves and Florida State Seminoles, proceed the custom, too, and the view that it’s offensive is much from common amongst Native Individuals. In some circumstances, Native Individuals have argued that an excessive amount of consideration has been skilled on sports activities chants and mascots moderately than on extra urgent points going through tribes.
Richard Sneed, the principal chief of the Japanese Band of Cherokee Indians inside North Carolina, mentioned in 2021 that he was extra centered on lowering poverty and crime than he was on how followers cheered at Braves video games.
“I’m not offended by any individual waving their arm at a sports activities sport,” Sneed instructed The Related Press. He declined to remark additional when contacted this week.
Amanda Blackhorse, who lives in Phoenix and is an organizer of Sunday’s protest, mentioned she views the chop as worse than a caricature, however moderately a reminder of colonizers’ mass killing of Native American individuals.
“For Native individuals, we’re sitting there pondering, ‘How is that this even taking place?’” mentioned Blackhorse, who had lengthy pushed the Washington Commanders to drop their earlier identify.
The Chiefs have in recent times established partnerships with Native American teams, and have had representatives bless the drum used to invigorate the group at Arrowhead Stadium. The Native American individuals concerned in these efforts have praised them as a manner to assist educate followers about their tradition, in entrance of a captive viewers of almost 80,000.
Blackhorse, however, sees them as an try and make followers really feel higher and to keep away from making extra drastic adjustments to the crew’s id.
“There’s no option to appropriately applicable a tradition,” she mentioned.