On Super Bowl Sunday, Florida Indigenous Rights and Environmental Equality (FIREE) will protest the Kansas City Chiefs near Raymond James Stadium. And it’s not because they’re Bucs fans.
According to FIREE, the Chief’s logo and imagery appropriate Indigenous culture, thus devaluing their experience and history.
“No other groups are racially trivialized into a mascot. There is no Kansas City Sambos, no Kansas City Chicanos, no Kansas City Crackers,” FIREE’s protest event page reads. “There is no Kansas City Catholics where the mascot Pope does the lambada with mascot nuns while tossing communion wafers on the field as the fans whoop it up in a pseudo-Gregorian chant while doing the crucifix chop…”
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The Chief’s logo features an arrowhead, a tool created by Native Americans, which encircles the letters “KC”. Non-native Kansas City Chiefs fans have been known to dress up in fake Native garb to support their team. Many fans also participate in a “tomahawk chop” to support their team, which further appropriates Native culture.
“How will we have serious conversations about treaty rights involving land back or water rights, or any of the serious issues when we can't even have Native people recognized as more than a cartoonish mascot for America's fun and games?,” asks Sheridan Murphy, co-founder of FIREE.
In 2020, Native Americans had a victory when The Washington Redskins removed “Redskins” from their name. Redskin is a term that has complex and contested origins, but became a slur that European colonizers used against Natives. Defenders of the Redskins name said that the name and imagery honored Native Americans, but Natives disagreed.
"The name is racist that's what you've got to understand," Chief Tayac of the Piscataway Indian Tribe said in an interview with ABC News. "Don't believe what I tell you, look it up in Webster's Dictionary for the Washington Football Team. I don't like to say the word, but it's Redskin. See what it means. It's a racial slur for Native Americans. It's derogatory."
The former Washington Redskins are currently named the Washington Football Team as they decide on a new name. They’re one of many sports teams to change their names in recent years at the demand of Indigenous people, including Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians.
The Kansas City Chiefs are holding onto their name and imagery, despite the protests and controversy surrounding it. CNN recently pointed out that the Chiefs are even named after a white man who appropriated Native culture.
And so, FIREE will be gathering near Raymond James Stadium to show that they are not mascots and that the Chiefs should follow suit of Washington and so many other sports teams. The location is still being decided on, however, depending on where the demonstration will be able to maneuver amidst the Super Bowl chaos. Murphy encourages people to check the event page for updates on where the demonstration will be held.
“I want to be as close to their (The Chiefs) hatred as I can,” says Murphy.
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