By Sam Mellinger
The Chiefs have similarly scaled back some of their more obvious plays on Indian stereotypes, and they hope they have some other advantages when the fight comes. The team is named after H. Roe Bartle, the mayor who was key in Kansas City landing the team from Dallas in 1962. Bartle’s nickname was “The Chief.”
The team stopped using a man dressed in traditional headgear as a mascot during pregame festivities many years ago. In the early 1990s, many of the Chiefs’ defensive players posed for a poster that today both looks absolutely ridiculous and would never be recreated.
The team does, however, play the tomahawk chop during games and welcomes fans in headgear and other stereotypes of Native American dress.
Those are some of the parts of the game day experience that Blackhorse calls “insane,” and why she expects a fight that’s gaining momentum and support nationally to come to Kansas City.
By Sean Keeler
But the team has veered on both sides of the political correctness highway in the 50 years since. "Warpaint," a pinto horse who was a staple of Chiefs games, had been ridden bareback by a man in feather headdress until the tradition was phased out in 1989. When the horse returned to Arrowhead in 2009, it was ridden by a Chiefs cheerleader, and the Native American iconography was toned down.
However, the team still includes a ceremonial drum as part of its pregame ceremony--even inviting celebrities to take turns beating it--while fans have come to home games dressed in American Indian headgear and face paint.
"I know one of the things I think the majority of Native Americans aren't happy with is the guys painting their faces and acting the fool," Learned said. "And people compare that--I hear (our people) compare that to black face. That's a pretty strong argument."
If teams could use a Native-oriented name with none of the associated stereotyping, the name might be okay. But that's never happened and never will happen. The stereotypical concept makes the stereotypical behavior almost certain.