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Kansas City Chiefs ban die-hard fans from wearing Native American headdresses, war paint

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 3: Kansas City Chiefs fans wear headdress at an NFL football game against the New York Jets on December 3, 2017 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Jets won 38-31. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

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The Kansas City Chiefs were one of the first two NFL franchises to appear in a Super Bowl, losing to the Green Bay Packers in 1967.

The team was also among the first to win a Super Bowl, defeating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV in 1970.

A half-century would pass before the team would appear in another championship game, much less win it: The Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers in February to take home the Super Bowl LIV championship.

And on Thursday, the franchise rewarded its fans by banning them from being Chiefs fans.

In a statement, the team said it would prohibit fans from entering Arrowhead Stadium wearing traditional Native American headdresses or ‘war paint,’ as a means of pushing back against “cultural appropriation.”

“In 2014, we began a dialogue with a group of local leaders from diverse American Indian backgrounds and experiences. As an organization, our goal was to gain a better understanding of the issues facing American Indian communities in our region and explore opportunities to both raise awareness of American Indian cultures and celebrate the rich traditions of tribes with a historic connection to the Kansas City area,” the statement said.

“These meaningful conversations with the American Indian Community Working Group helped us educate ourselves and our fans,” the team added. “Our discussions also led us to discourage fans from wearing ceremonial headdresses and American Indian-themed face paint in our stadium.”

But now, instead of merely discouraging fans from wearing headdresses and applying war paint, the team is banning it.

“While we have discouraged fans from wearing headdresses for several years, effective immediately, fans will be prohibited from wearing headdresses into the stadium,” the statement said. “Face painting is still allowed for all fans, but any face paint that is styled in a way that references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions will be prohibited.”

The statement said any fan wearing headdresses or wearing face paint that resembles Native American culture will be asked to remove them.

Meanwhile, the team is also considering banning the so-called “Arrowhead Chop” — a chopping motion fans make while engaging in a Native American war chant at various points during games, usually at the beginning and towards the end to signify victory over an opponent.

“As allowed by NFL guidelines and the City of Kansas City Health Department for the coronavirus-impacted 2020 season, we will continue with many of the traditions that we have introduced over the past six years, including the Blessing of the Four Directions, the Blessing of the Drum, as well as inviting members of tribes with a historic connection to our region to participate in our American Indian Heritage Month Game,” the statement continued.

“Finally, we are exploring the creation of a more formalized education program with input from both our local and national partners.”

The bans come after another American Indian-themed franchise, the Washington Redskins, formally changed their name to the Washington Football Team last month following the death of George Floyd in May and the resurgence of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

Left-wing groups and Democrats have long criticized the name ‘Redskins’ as demeaning and racist, but the only significant survey to gauge Native American reaction to it was done by the Washington Post — a newspaper in the team’s market — in 2016. That survey found an overwhelming majority — 9 out of 10 — were not offended by the name.

A subsequent 2019 survey by Wolvereye found that 74 percent of Native Americans either liked the name or were not offended by it.

Interestingly, a UC-Berkeley study conducted earlier this year claims to have found that nearly half of Native Americans surveyed found the name offensive.

Jon Dougherty

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