KC Chiefs, it’s your duty to show your fans leadership. Time to ax the Arrowhead chop

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On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs celebrate American Indian Heritage Month at Arrowhead Stadium before their game against the Los Angeles Rams. The pre-game celebrations are another reminder of how far the organization has come to highlight its rich history and allegiance to Native American customs. And this important work must continue.
To their credit, the organization has made strides in educating their fan base about the do's and don'ts of adopting Native American culture. Gone are the days when fans would show up to Chiefs games wearing headgear, war paint, and other depictions that satirize Native American culture. Unfortunately, the racially insensitive arrowhead chop remains a game-day tradition.
For the past several years, team officials have been working diligently with the American Indian Community Working Group, made up of leaders from a diverse group of Native American communities in the Kansas City area, to learn more about Native American culture and history. Incremental changes followed, but the team must continue to use their platform to help eradicate all of these offensive images from the sport.
"We continue to have an important dialogue with local and national groups to find ways to educate ourselves and our fans by raising awareness of Native American communities and their rich traditions," the team wrote in a statement on Indigenous Peoples Day October.
In 2010, after a round of stadium renovations, the franchise brought back its large barrel drum used at the old Municipal Stadium, team officials told us. Legendary players and cheerleaders from years past banged the ceremonial drum as they took the field. The team did not recognize the sacred position played by the drums in Native American culture, officials said. From discussions with the American Indian Community Working Group, team management learned more about the role of ceremonial drums in Native American culture and why they are sacred.
And so a new tradition was born. In 2019, after another round of improvements at Arrowhead, a drum kit was built. Twice during the season, including Sunday against the Rams, elders from the Native American community will consecrate the drum in an authentic blessing ceremony. The biannual ritual, team officials said, expressly allows the team and its guests of honor to bang the drum.
We applaud the Chiefs for using the team's influence to educate fans about what the blessing means. But we still hold them responsible for encouraging hacking.
Celebrate the team's history with respect
Eventually against the Rams, tens of thousands of Chiefs supporters will band together to perform the Arrowhead Chop, the organization's attempt to normalize the tomahawk chopping moves fans regularly make by letting them use a closed fist instead of a flat palm, allegedly beat the drum to symbolize this. We know bad habits are hard to break. But for advocates against the use of Native American mascots and imagery in sports, any slap is demeaning and disrespectful.
The team was reluctant to distance themselves from the gesture, even renaming the practice to avoid ending its use. But more than once in recent seasons, Chiefs fans have been caught by national TV cameras hacking with their hands open.
"I think every time that's shown on TV, it's disgusting," said Rhonda LeValdo of the Not in Our Honor coalition, which opposes the use of Native American mascots and imagery and launched a protest at Sunday's game plans. "That makes me sick."
From our conversations with Chiefs officials, we know this much: Upper management, including team president Mark Donovan, understands the team's powerful platform to raise awareness of an issue facing the nation and like fan actions might be considered offensive to Native American communities. In turn, the organization has sought to teach its loyal fanbase the importance of celebrating, but not deriding, Native American history. We have to acknowledge that.
Which brings us back to hacking. The team and its fans must take on the task of finding an alternative matchday tradition that celebrates a unique history and honors a special part of the team's geographic culture.
The Chiefs are a No. 1 team and should behave as such in all aspects of the game.

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