Indianz.Com > News > Rhonda LeValdo: Kansas City team continues to mock Native people
Rhonda LeValdo
Rhonda LeValdo, right, carries a sign reading “Taylor Swift doesn’t do the tomahawk chop. Be like Taylor.” following a Native press conference at the Nuwu Art Gallery + Community Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 10, 2024. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
Kansas City team continues to mock Native people
Sunday, February 11, 2024

As we prepare for the continued celebration of cultural appropriation at the Superbowl, words don’t adequately express the amount of frustration we feel over the name, the appropriated imagery, stereotypical song and chop, and continued use of headdresses by fans. The efforts and changes that the Kansas City football claim they have made to honor Natives across Turtle Island are tone deaf at best.

The mockery of our Native nations are seen worldwide and despite decades of opposition by tribes, tribal and urban organizations and individual Natives, the appearance of our acceptance of the mockery remains. When we protest and oppose this, we are accused of erasure, as if this is actual representation of Natives instead of cultural appropriation and racism. Imagining the Indian, is a documentary released in 2022 that speaks to this very issue and documents the decades of opposition. It is now available for streaming and is a must watch for those that want to understand this issue.

Decades of empirical research shows the actual harm these mascots and stereotypes cause to ALL youth, individuals, communities, and other minority people. It is not a matter of opinion, nor a matter of whether these mascots and stereotypes are offensive, they cause actual harm.

If history was accurately taught in schools, people would understand the trauma Native Americans have endured due to the attempted genocide of our people. We were not allowed to practice our culture, our language, our songs, our ceremonies, so Kansas City’s team owners continued mockery of our culture as their brand continues the erasure of who we are as Native people.

The small changes team leadership has made — banning headdresses and facepaint — make it obvious they are aware all of their imagery and branding is, at the very least, problematic. Moreover, it does not stop fans from continuing to wear facepaint and headdresses in other stadiums and while tailgating at the KC stadium. We have witnessed several headdresses in Kansas City despite the “ban.”

Additionally, the NFL has published a code of conduct, which apparently does not apply to Native Americans or Native American fans:


“Offensive language or obscene gestures, this includes the use of such language or gestures concerning a person’s race, ethnicity, color, gender, religion, creed, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression or national origin; or to instigate, incite or encourage a confrontation or physical assault.”

CHANGE THE NAME AND STOP THE CHOP: Native press conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. #NotInOurHonor #NotYourMascot #ChangeTheName #StopTheChop #SBLVIII #NotYourChief

Posted by Indianz.Com on Saturday, February 10, 2024
Indianz.Com Video: Change the Name and Stop the Chop #SBLVIII

We all need to evaluate why Kansas City continues to tolerate being represented on the global stage by a football team using stereotypes of a race of human beings, their sacred objects and imagery as its mascot. We need to take a hard look at all of our roles in allowing this to continue.

In light of Kansas City’s City Council unanimously approving a resolution declaring racism as a public health crisis in 2019, and acknowledging systemic racism occurs in Kansas City, it is imperative to also acknowledge the racism experienced by the Native American people living and working in Kansas City and surrounding area due to Kansas City football team’s imagery and branding permeating every facet of the Kansas City region.

We have heretofore not seen pressure put on the team’s leadership by state, county, or city leadership to end the racism and discrimination inherent in the team’s imagery and in the fan behavior they instigate, which occurs in public infrastructure owned by Jackson County and funded by our tax dollars.

In fact, the Kansas City football team’s billionaire owners want voters to approve a new tax for renovations at the stadium. This issue will be on the ballot in the next election in Jackson County on April 2, 2024.

Not only are there no specific plans given to taxpayers on precisely what renovations and improvements the taxpayer funds will be used for, they have certainly NOT given any indication these funds will be used to change their racist branding in the stadium. Therefore, a new tax will be upon the taxpayers to continue to fund the harm caused by the team owners’ chosen brand and imagery.

In addition to paying for it, we are expected to continue to tolerate being seen worldwide at this Super Bowl and during the upcoming FIFA World Cup games as a city that tolerates and celebrates the dehumanizing of the original inhabitants of this land.

The Kansas City football team MUST change its name and imagery. It is what is best for Kansas City, our City’s image, and the overall health and mental wellbeing of ALL of its residents. If we want to be a world-class city, we need to demand our team name and imagery also be world-class.

Vote, call, email, text, tag in social media, and otherwise let your elected officials, Kansas City football team leadership, their sponsors, the NFL, and your friends and relatives know that we all deserve better than to be represented by these harmful stereotypes and mascots, not just in Kansas City, but across the nation.

And it would be a bonus if you can get Taylor Swift to use her influence and social activism to boost this message.

Rhonda LeValdo (Pueblo of Acoma) founded Not In Our Honor in 2005 to advocate against the use of Native American imagery in sports.