Super Bowl 2024: Native American activists say the Kansas City Chiefs want to alter | EUROtoday

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Rhonda LeValdo is refusing to decelerate. For the fourth time in 5 years, her hometown staff and the main target of her activism is within the Super Bowl.

As the Kansas City Chiefs put together for Sunday’s massive recreation, so does LeValdo. She and dozens of different Indigenous activists are in Las Vegas to protest and demand the staff change its title and ditch its brand and rituals they are saying are offensive.

“I’ve spent so much of my personal time and money on this issue. I really hoped that our kids wouldn’t have to deal with this,” mentioned LeValdo, who based and leads a bunch referred to as Not In Our Honor. “But here we go again.”

Her concern for kids is based. Research has proven using Native American imagery and stereotypes in sports activities have adverse psychological results on Native youth and encourage non-Native kids to discriminate in opposition to them.

“There’s no other group in this country subjected to this kind of cultural degradation,” mentioned Phil Gover, who based a college devoted to Native youth in Oklahoma City.

“It’s demeaning. It tells Native kids that the rest of society, the only thing they ever care to know about you and your culture are these mocking minstrel shows,” he mentioned, including that what non-Native kids study are stereotypes.

Rhonda LeValdo’s protests the staff

(Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

LeValdo, an Acoma Pueblo journalist and college member at Haskell Indian Nations University, has been within the Kansas City space for greater than 20 years.

She arrived from Nevada as a school pupil. In 2005, when Kansas City was taking part in Washington’s soccer staff, she and different Indigenous college students organized round their anger on the offensive names and iconography utilized by each groups.

Some sports activities franchises made modifications within the wake of the 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The Washington staff dropped its title, which is taken into account a racial slur, after calls courting again to the Nineteen Sixties by Native advocates akin to Suzan Harjo. In 2021, the Cleveland baseball staff modified its title from the Indians to the Guardians.

Ahead of the 2020 season, the Chiefs barred followers from sporting headdresses or face paint referencing or appropriating Native American tradition in Arrowhead Stadium, although some nonetheless have.

“End Racism” was written in the long run zone. Players put decals on their helmets with related slogans or names of Black folks killed by police.

“We were like, ‘Wow, you guys put this on the helmets and on the field, but look at your name and what you guys are doing,’” LeValdo mentioned.

The subsequent 12 months, the Chiefs retired their mascot, a horse named Warpaint {that a} cheerleader would experience onto the sector each time the staff scored a landing. In the Nineteen Sixties, a person sporting a headdress rode the horse.

A billboard calling for a reputation change and an finish to the Kansas City Chiefs ‘chop’ stands

(Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

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

The added consideration on the staff this season because of singer Taylor Swift’s relationship with tight finish Travis Kelce isn’t misplaced on Indigenous activists. LeValdo mentioned her fellow activists made an indication for this weekend studying, “Taylor Swift doesn’t do the chop. Be like Taylor.”

“We were watching. We were looking to see if she was going to do it. But she never did,” LeValdo mentioned.

The Chiefs say the staff was named after Kansas City Mayor H. Roe Bartle, who was nicknamed “The Chief” and helped lure the franchise from Dallas in 1963.

They additionally say they’ve labored lately to remove offensive imagery.

“We’ve done more over the last seven years, I think, than any other team to raise awareness and educate ourselves,” Chiefs President Mark Donovan mentioned forward of final 12 months’s Super Bowl.

The staff has made a degree to spotlight two Indigenous gamers: lengthy snapper James Winchester, a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and middle Creed Humphrey, who’s from the Citizen Potawatomi Nation of Oklahoma.

In 2014, the Chiefs launched the American Indian Community Working Group, which has Native Americans serving as advisers, to coach the staff on points going through the Indigenous inhabitants. As a consequence, Native American representatives have been featured at video games, generally providing ceremonial blessings.

“The members of that working group weren’t people that were involved in any of the organizations that actually serve Natives in Kansas City,” mentioned Gaylene Crouser, government director of the Kansas City Indian Center, which gives well being, welfare and cultural providers to the Indigenous group. Crouser is amongst those that plan to protest in Las Vegas this weekend.

Rhonda LeValdo’s hometown staff and the main target of her protest, are taking part in within the Super Bowl this weekend. Levaldo is renewing her name for the staff to alter its title and ditch its brand

(Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver sees the label “Chief” as a time period of endearment. He has been a Chiefs fan since he moved to Kansas City greater than half a century in the past, although he mentioned it “wouldn’t bother me that much” if the title have been modified.

“A chief was somebody with enormous influence,” mentioned Cleaver, who’s Black, making a reference to tribal chiefs in Africa. “As long as the name is not an insult or an invective, then I’m OK with it.”

The story introduced by the Chiefs options the message that the staff is honoring Native tradition. But Crouser calls {that a} “PR stunt.”

“There’s no honor in you painting your face and putting on a costume and cosplaying our culture,” Crouser said. She added, “The sheer entitlement of people outside our community telling us they’re honoring us is so incredibly frustrating.”

LeValdo is very conscious of who gets to own a narrative. As a University of Kansas journalism student in the early 2000s, she says a professor told her she would be too biased as a Native woman to report on stories about Native people. When she entered the world of video journalism, she was told she “didn’t have the look” to be on camera.

FILE – A Kansas City Chiefs fan watches pregame activities before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings


During Chiefs home games, she and other Indigenous activists stand outside Arrowhead with signs saying, “Stop the Chop” and “This Does Not Honor Us.” The sounds of a large drum and thousands of fans imitating a “war chant” as they swing their arms thunder from the stadium.

For LeValdo, the pain fueling her anger and activism is rooted in the oppression, killing and displacement of her ancestors and the lingering effects those injustices have on her community.

“We weren’t even allowed to be Native American. We weren’t allowed to practice our culture. We weren’t allowed to wear our clothes,” she said. “But it’s OK for Kansas City fans to bang a drum, to wear a headdress and then to act like they’re honoring us? That doesn’t make sense.”

In England, rugby union staff Exeter Chiefs refused to alter their title however did rebrand themselves in January 2022 after protests. The change in brand was in step with the Celtic Dumnonii tribe after deciding to desert the Native American theme.

They claimed a brand new id whereas conserving the “Chiefs” nickname. The Celtic Iron Age Dumnonii tribe encompassed an space overlaying the south west of England the place Exeter are based mostly.