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Chiefs seek alliances with Native American groups

Chiefs Getty Images

Despite fundamental differences between the name of the Chiefs and the label applied to the Washington NFL franchise, some believe that the Chiefs, like Washington, should change their name.  While a full-blown debate on that topic may never happen (and should never happen), the Chiefs are addressing the situation long before any such efforts would seem to be an exercise in P.R.

According to Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star, the Chiefs have reached out to several Native American groups, hopeful to build bridges long before an attempt to change the team’s name ever coalesces.  It’s a far better strategy than, for example, pointing out the various high schools that still use the term “Chiefs,” declaring that the name will change at the stroke of “all caps never,” and suggesting that anyone who expresses a concern about the name is simply looking for Internet clicks.

The Chiefs shouldn’t have to worry about changing the team’s name, since “Chiefs” isn’t and likely won’t evolve into a dictionary-defined slur.  Still, working with Native American groups will help guide the Chiefs regarding game-day traditions that either could be deemed problematic (such as war paint and headdresses) or may be enhanced via greater sensitivity to Native American culture (such as the warm drum that is banged before games).

It’s an opportunity for fans to learn about and to honor Native American traditions, and it seems to be a lot more genuine and potentially effective than Washington’s effort to clumsily stomp out a blaze that has emerged because the franchise initially tried to put out a much smaller fire by pouring gasoline on it.

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55 Responses to “Chiefs seek alliances with Native American groups”
  1. jrebar88 says: Aug 8, 2014 2:48 PM

    Broncos fan here…there is nothing wrong with them using the name “Chiefs” ALTHOUGH using the term “Kingdom” is what should be looked at. Team hasn’t won anything since 1969, where is your “Kingdom?”

  2. chunkderrrty says: Aug 8, 2014 2:50 PM

    the same people that complain about names such as chiefs and braves are the same ones who are gonna complain down the road because native american heritage is being wiped off.

  3. joeflaccoallday says: Aug 8, 2014 2:53 PM

    Great idea. Respect to KC!

  4. thestrategyexpert says: Aug 8, 2014 2:57 PM

    They probably didn’t know it was gasoline before they started pouring, it was just a very poor labeling mistake/accident/unfortunate circumstance/something ego-deflating to own up to.

    Although one still has to wonder how they didn’t smell the emanating fumes which should have been noticeable even from a distance, and where has the common sense gone in thinking that water is stored in a red container that looks like something one would use as a gas can.

    It would be a wise idea anyhow for every team to take a requisite amount of time to reexamine everything that their team stands for and to make a more concerted effort to solve any problems that do exist, or to clear up any messages that are hanging out there that might be improper, illegal, or not of the brand that the team truly wishes to promote and be known for.

  5. longsufferingkcfan says: Aug 8, 2014 2:57 PM

    The Chiefs were originally the Dallas Texans before moving to Kansas City. The mayor of KC at the time was instrumental in bringing them to town and the team name was a tribute to him, as his nickname was “The Chief.” Regardless, it’s not a derogatory term and has many uses outside of the Native American lexicon.

  6. Deb says: Aug 8, 2014 3:04 PM

    Like you, I don’t see a problem with “Chief” because it isn’t a racist term, but applaud the team for getting in front of any potential controversy.

    Although I empathize with longtime Washington fans who don’t want to give up their traditions, I just don’t get Snyder. In a recent interview, he kept insisting “Redskin” means “honor and integrity.” Those may be attributes he wants to associate with his team, but that’s not what the word means. It’s a noun. A Cowboy is a guy who herds cows. A Steeler is a guy who works in a steel mill. A Raider is a pirate. A Brown is a disciple of Paul Brown. A Redskin is understood to be an American Indian, and the word is generally regarded as a pejorative. Snyder’s not going to solve the problem by pretending it doesn’t exist.

  7. Stiller43 says: Aug 8, 2014 3:07 PM

    I really have no dog in the fight as I dont care about either team…

    but I’d personally be a whole lot less likely to go up to a native american and drop a “hey, whats up chief?” than I would to drop a “hey, whats up redskin?”

  8. ytownjoe says: Aug 8, 2014 3:09 PM

    Would Native Americans prefer to wipe out every last vestige of their tribal existence on the North American continent?

    Perhaps they should have completely assimilated 150 years ago and today some of them could be running Fortune 500 companies.

  9. kcnative says: Aug 8, 2014 3:09 PM

    I think it’s no so much the name but the things it invites, that offend Native Americans…like the headdress and war paint.

    If they shore up those indiscretions, and in effect CELEBRATE the culture, I don’t see how anyone can really complain, unless they’re just looking to complain for the sake of complaining.

  10. weepingjebus says: Aug 8, 2014 3:10 PM

    The NFL has made vast amounts of money with these teams, and is far and away the most popular professional sports league. Nobody cares about the names, let it go.

  11. afcdomination says: Aug 8, 2014 3:12 PM

    chiefs should never change their name. it would be a level of PC insanity I hope we never reach

    as for “Kingdom” no one said a “Kingdom” must be a good one. Say I am the King of the Iron Islands, doesn’t mean I am any good or successful, just means I established myself as the king of the Iron Islands.

    chiefs will be exciting this year and many to come. their oldest players are 31(Punter and Derrick Johnson) and the cap raising only helps them retain a roster full of talent. john Dorsey is pulling UDFA’s and turning them into starters.

  12. JaminJake says: Aug 8, 2014 3:14 PM

    Broncos fan here. Absolutely flawless maneuvering by the Chiefs. Even though their name is due to a former Police Chief, they recognize the situation they are in and want to be effective rather than standing their ground and saying no. By extending this olive branch, they give the Native American community the ability to expose others to their culture all the while dousing any potential backlash from Ms. Blackhorse. She doesn’t have a leg to stand on when the team you are calling out decides to pull a trick play and cut you legs out from under you.

    Absolutely brilliant move.

  13. daveakl says: Aug 8, 2014 3:18 PM

    Come on Mike, clearly it’s racist.

    Would you walk into a bar on a reservation and say “what’s up cheifs?”

    Wait, the same logic doesn’t apply?

  14. aa1829 says: Aug 8, 2014 3:19 PM

    Like Marquette’s prior name, the warriors, I don’t see anything wrong with the chiefs, and I am one of the hyper sensitive ones when it comes to disrespecting the earth’s indigenous population. They all got the shaft in the past, and are still getting it today. Pay attention to their opinions on drilling for oil in the Amazon, and the oil pipeline across America. You don’t play my Packers, so go Chiefs.

  15. aa1829 says: Aug 8, 2014 3:21 PM

    Sorry, forgot something. I am not ok with using props like a headdress, war drum, tomahawk chop, ect.

  16. Jim says: Aug 8, 2014 3:21 PM

    I like a nice warm drum.

  17. jayhawk6 says: Aug 8, 2014 3:32 PM

    @longsufferingkcfan

    Mayor Bartle was a larger than life type of person who was, among other things, very active in the Boy Scouts. He was a high ranking figure in the tribe of Mic-O-Say, which was an organization associated with the Boy Scout camp at Osceola, Missouri. Its function was, among other things, to encourage older boys to stay involved with scouting after they had achieved the rank of Eagle. This fostered the development and growth of leadership skills.

    This was how as a fourteen year old I met the mayor over half a century ago–he was an imposing figure who left an indelible impression. “Chief” was quite the appropriate sobriquet for him. Its use as the name of our football team should not make anybody feel himself/herself to be a lesser person.

  18. edrooneyjr says: Aug 8, 2014 3:32 PM

    I don’t think either team should change anything but using pfts previous logic, would you walk up to a Native American and call them Chief ?
    Them

  19. armchairhalloffamer says: Aug 8, 2014 3:35 PM

    Breaking News…The Panthers, Jaguars, Tigers, Bears, and all other teams whose mascot is an animal have reached out to PETA “hopeful to build bridges long before an attempt to change the team’s name ever coalesces.” So much for the old sticks and stones adage…

  20. 32assassin says: Aug 8, 2014 3:36 PM

    The Chiefs were originally the Dallas Texans before moving to Kansas City. The mayor of KC at the time was instrumental in bringing them to town and the team name was a tribute to him, as his nickname was “The Chief.” Regardless, it’s not a derogatory term and has many uses outside of the Native American lexicon

    —————————————————–

    before you jump to conclusions.
    I don’t believe that the Redskins or the Chiefs should change their name!!!

    but if you honestly believe that why don’t Chief fans dress up as
    Police chiefs
    Commander in chiefs
    “insert non Native American reference here” chiefs.

    they would avoid all the bull PC crap if the fans stopped dressing up as Native Americans for their home games.

  21. reesesteel23 says: Aug 8, 2014 3:36 PM

    Come on in idiots. Educate us all on how ‘Chiefs’ and Red Skins are equally derogatory lol.

  22. reesesteel23 says: Aug 8, 2014 3:39 PM

    No, the same logic doesn’t apply lol.

    ‘Chiefs’ isn’t taking a specific characteristic or feature from someone’s appearance and using it as a mascot. Not the same thing.

  23. darkneptune73 says: Aug 8, 2014 3:42 PM

    At least the Chiefs are being proactive about it, even though Chiefs offends no one.

  24. theravenmaniac says: Aug 8, 2014 3:45 PM

    Dammit I was hoping they would finally be the chefs!!!!
    Seriously i think they can’t be absolved since they use Indian props that are supposedly insensitive to Natives.

  25. margegundersonbrainerd says: Aug 8, 2014 3:47 PM

    Quoting ytownjoe
    ~~~~~~
    Would Native Americans prefer to wipe out every last vestige of their tribal existence on the North American continent?

    Perhaps they should have completely assimilated 150 years ago and today some of them could be running Fortune 500 companies.
    ~~~~~~
    It would be naive and foolish to infer none are simply because you haven’t personally met them. You won’t learn anything about life with small thinking like that. Do you seriously think every single one lives on a reservation?

  26. censorshipstinks says: Aug 8, 2014 3:55 PM

    This is a quote from the Principal at Red Mesa High School.
    Welcome to the 2013-2014 school year. I am honored to be at Red Mesa High School as their Principal. Red Mesa High School has a long tradition of students who have achieved in academics, and athletes who have excelled on the field. I want to build on that tradition. Redskin Pride will be promoted in all programs and activities this year. We will call it “Pursuing Excellence with honor”.

    The school is located on the Navajo Reservation and is a public school. We have nearly 100% Navajo students.

  27. Marshawn Lunch says: Aug 8, 2014 4:00 PM

    Stiller43 says:
    Aug 8, 2014 3:07 PM
    I really have no dog in the fight as I dont care about either team…

    but I’d personally be a whole lot less likely to go up to a native american and drop a “hey, whats up chief?” than I would to drop a “hey, whats up redskin?”
    —————

    Seriously??? You’d rather call a Native American a “redskin” as opposed to calling him or her “chief”???!

    You said you were less likely to call them a chief than a redskin. You must have mis-typed. Do you mean you are less likely to call someone a redskin to their face?

  28. rcali says: Aug 8, 2014 4:00 PM

    “The Kansas City NFL Franchise” is being a little bit obvious with this move but few are losing their mind over the team name like they are with “The Washington NFL Franchise,” or as the game announcers were calling them last night,”The Redskins.”

  29. socalraider909 says: Aug 8, 2014 4:08 PM

    There is Nothing wrong with the chiefs name its the Redskin that needs to be changed

  30. sylvester000001 says: Aug 8, 2014 4:09 PM

    “The Chiefs shouldn’t have to worry about changing the team’s name, since “Chiefs” isn’t and likely won’t evolve into a dictionary-defined slur. ”

    Wrong, it will in fact be a slur, probably next decade.

    And it shouldn’t.

    And this nonsense about you saying it’s different than Redskin only outs you for what you are, a guy who decided you hate Snyder so you wont stop psychotically obsessed going after him.

    No one ever uses the term Chief toward one another except in a derogatory way. “Hey good job Chief, next time call a professional” etc.

    You’re inconsistent here which is even more evidence your invented issue really isn’t an issue.

  31. boogerhut says: Aug 8, 2014 4:12 PM

    Anything is going to offend someone. Period. You have the right to free speech, and also the right to be offended. You have the obligation to ignore it and move on. I’m offended every time some 10th generation American refers to himself as a mexican American, African American and so on. I’m offended every time I see some idiot with his pants around his knees. But so what. Move on.

  32. mushroommike says: Aug 8, 2014 4:16 PM

    The nickname has to do with the nickname of the original owner and not any Indian heritage. Now having those Indian headbands and playing that dumb tomahawk chop song may be a different matter.

  33. gentlebenno says: Aug 8, 2014 4:17 PM

    So the Redskins name has to go because folks are offended? Call Redskins a slur if you want, but the long term issue is who decides what’s offensive? Native Americans? The dictionary? My neighbor? The dry cleaning guy? If Redskins has to go because folks are offended by it, then clearly Chiefs can go because folks are offended by it. Or Braves, Indians, etc. What about the Saints? Maybe there’s a lot of folks who want religion out of football. What about the Patriots? Maybe there’s a lot of folks who want jingoism out of football. It’s all subjective. There’s no end to how silly this can all get.

  34. Stiller43 says: Aug 8, 2014 4:23 PM

    Marshawn Lunch,

    No, you read correctly the first time. I also understand neither is meant to be offensive and as someone who isn’t offended by either (but I’m a white guy, what do I know?), I only think the ‘skins should change their name if it is indeed a slur that many find offensive.

    I don’t find the name “Chiefs” offensive for a team, but to walk up to a random native american person and call them Chief, to me, would scream douche baggery. That being said, I wouldn’t walk up to a random native american and call them either name.

  35. thefox61 says: Aug 8, 2014 4:23 PM

    “Happiness is a warm drum” wasn’t that a Beatles song on the white album?

  36. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Aug 8, 2014 4:26 PM

    “It’s a far better strategy than, for example, pointing out the various high schools that still use the term “Chiefs,” declaring that the name will change at the stroke of “all caps never,” and suggesting that anyone who expresses a concern about the name is simply looking for Internet clicks.”

    I hear ya, and it’s a better strategy than having sports writers make everyone who opposes a name change, feel like insensitive racists.

  37. tndiver says: Aug 8, 2014 4:30 PM

    If I were Snyder, I would completely change the name to something along the lines of a cowboy (Washington Wranglers?). Then ban any team from wearing a uniform that resembles anything related to Native American culture (like what Minnesota is doing to them) and see how they respond! If anyone studies the origin of the word and the long standing use of the word, it was used to describe Native Americans and was started by Native Americans! It was used much the same way as we would describe a black man. You also have to look at intent, which is the biggest problem I have with this whole debate. There is no common sense in this as why would a team choose a mascot that ridicules another? The goal is to identify something you are proud of and want to represent. If anything, people should be up in arms about the Cleveland Indians Chief Wahoo logo, which is clearly taken from racist literature.

  38. milksteak78 says: Aug 8, 2014 4:43 PM

    No, as long as they aren’t the Redskins it isn’t racist:
    Do the Redskins play at Arrowhead Stadium. Is the Redskins mascot a horse named Warpaint. But no, no reason for the Chiefs to have to change their name, because blah blah blah.

  39. whysomanylosers says: Aug 8, 2014 4:54 PM

    FSU Seminoles were smart enough in 1978 to reach out to the Seminole tribe BEFORE they introduced Chief Osceola as a symbol of their teams…

    With the billions of dollars the NFL and owners have, you would think they would be smart enough to have figured this out years ago.

    Redskins – offensive nearly 100% of the time
    Chiefs – could be offensive depending upon the context.

  40. Marshawn Lunch says: Aug 8, 2014 5:14 PM

    Stiller43, I do believe you when you say you wouldn’t walk up to a native American and call them either term. But you did say that you would go with “redskin” instead of “chief”, and that, to me, is the greater of the two evils. Peace be with you sir.

  41. mutohasaposse says: Aug 8, 2014 5:42 PM

    Wait, wait, wait … the crusade against the Skins is because some Native Americans find the name offensive. Some of the same people filing suit against the Skins have said the Chiefs is equally offensive.

    How come a debate, “Should never happen?”

    Hypocrisy at it’s finest. Makes sense from someone from Oklahoma who is throwing stones from a glass house.

  42. araidersfan says: Aug 8, 2014 6:17 PM

    I don’t really care too much about this whole political name thingy.

    But for THIS particular franchise, the easy solution would be to officially change the name to chefs. After all, that’s what I’ve always known them as. :)

  43. pipkinite says: Aug 8, 2014 7:39 PM

    As a Native American, I’m glad to point out that you are ALL wrong. Go seahawks (Native American bird that doesn’t transgress upon a history filled with violence and politically motivated transgressions which oppressed human beings).

  44. nachoface says: Aug 8, 2014 7:55 PM

    Chief isn’t in and of itself racist. It has been used as an ironic insult in some situations (e.g., I had a teacher in high school call me that whenever she didn’t like something I did), so it’s wise of KC to reach out to tribes to head off criticism.

  45. nickfoleandynomite says: Aug 8, 2014 8:27 PM

    How come no one is upset with the name Edmonton Eskimos?

  46. sylvester000001 says: Aug 8, 2014 9:39 PM

    “The Chiefs shouldn’t have to worry about changing the team’s name, since “Chiefs” isn’t and likely won’t evolve into a dictionary-defined slur. ”

    This sentence is extremely disturbing.

    It’s evidence again that this issue is about far more than racism or a team name.

    Here you have a guy writing this post demonstrating he is getting out of control with the idea of power. He saw the Chiefs did what they did, so HE decided he is ok with that because HE now feels he is the decider for all of US.

    That is bad. You cannot have an individual in society who gets like that. Fighting the name change is mostly about that, in addition to the more simpler concept of there’s no common sense in changing the name.

    The above statement clearly demonstrates what the root here is really: HE believes HE should be the decider for US. The reason you know this is what it’s really about is the fact that the whole idea that Chief is Ok but Redskin is not is completely contradictory. So he’s engaging in selective judging. Who does that? People who feel they can, because they now believe they are the decider for us all. That’s not a good thing.

    That’s why people will never stop fighting the name change. It’s not about the team name, it never has been.

  47. cowboysmb3dw28 says: Aug 9, 2014 12:06 AM

    The Chiefs and Redskins have a lot in common. They’re both professional football teams. At least that’s what I, and most other people think of when we hear the names.

  48. whodatnhollywood says: Aug 9, 2014 12:41 AM

    Enough already! What’s next? My Saints having to create an alliance with the Pope? PC Police, give us a break!

  49. Ed Bandell says: Aug 9, 2014 1:59 AM

    Wait….why shouldn’t there be a debate over the Kansas City Football team name?

    After all, isn’t it the PC line that even if one person is offended by something, it is offensive?

    You’ve never heard the word “Chief” used as a slur to refer to somebody that belongs to a tribe before? Just because a dictionary doesn’t define a word a certain way doesn’t mean it isn’t used that way.

    Does the dictionary define “cracker” as a racial slur? I don’t think it does, but we all know it is one.

    And why is it suddenly okay for the Kansas City Football team fans to wear the same exact kind of outfits that the Redskins do that are deemed inappropriate and offensive?

    There certainly should be a discussion about this. Why isn’t it offensive when other entities out there use the same nickname as the Washington Redskins or other nicknames that refer to native american people? This most certainly should be a debate. Either you ban them all and every other team names in the world that offend people and end all of the “racism,” or you let them all go.

  50. numberoneinthehoodg says: Aug 9, 2014 3:40 AM

    Every time I see an article like this, I want to go to a casino. Not sure why.

  51. nelly837 says: Aug 9, 2014 1:36 PM

    The word “Oklahoma” literally means red people in native Choctaw language. If the Redskins have to change their name then shouldn’t the native Americans be just as offended by the Sooner state?

  52. disturbedfred says: Aug 9, 2014 5:13 PM

    So in the interest of public opinion you’re not going to tilt at the KC windmill? How big of you.

  53. politicallyincorrect says: Aug 10, 2014 7:53 PM

    HTTR

  54. pftcensor1 says: Aug 11, 2014 11:49 AM

    A minority of Original Americans is offended by the Washington team name – a minority of Original Americans (albeit likely smaller) is offended by the Kansas City team name.

    For some reason name change proponents wish to honor the wishes of the first group but will seemingly ignore the wishes of the second group.

    I all name change proponents that if a group of people is offended by the name the name must be changed. Clearly Ms. Blackhorse and others are offended by KC’s name.

    KC’s name must be changed … angry white guys like are on the wrong side of history on this issue… and must be made to recognize that their defense of an offending name paints them as inconsistent at best and bigoted at worst.

  55. peoriaviking says: Aug 11, 2014 5:34 PM

    Florio couldn’t be more naive. “The Chiefs shouldn’t have to worry about changing the team’s name, since “Chiefs” isn’t and likely won’t evolve into a dictionary-defined slur”. Of course it will. People probably said the same thing about Redskins when the name was developed. If you don’t believe me, just walk up to a native American and say “hey, Chief, how do you get back to the intersate” and see what kind of look you get.

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