Kansas City Chiefs Ban Headdresses and Native American-Themed Face Paint at Stadium


The Kansas City Chiefs said on Thursday that the team was prohibiting fans from wearing ceremonial headdresses and Native American-style face paint at Arrowhead Stadium, becoming the latest organization to confront offensive symbols amid a nationwide discussion of racist imagery and iconography.

The announcement came just over a month after Washington’s football team declared, under pressure from corporate sponsors, that it would drop its logo and the Redskins name.

The Chiefs said that although the team had discouraged fans from wearing headdresses for several years, the organization had decided, after discussions with Native American leaders, to ban the headdresses, effective immediately, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

Fans will still be allowed to wear face paint, but any face paint “styled in a way that references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions will be prohibited,” the team said. Fans will be asked to remove any such face paint before passing through security checks outside the stadium, the team said.

The team also said it was reviewing the “Arrowhead Chop,” a tomahawk-like arm motion usually accompanied by a made-up war cry that fans perform at games. The team said it was also exploring changes to the “Drum Deck,” an area in Arrowhead Stadium where Chiefs players and others bang a large drum to kick off games.

The organization said it hoped to find another way to unify players and fans while better representing the spiritual significance of the drum in American Indian cultures. One possibility under discussion, the team said, would involve shifting the focus of the drum “to something that symbolizes the heartbeat of the stadium.”

The Chiefs did not announce any changes to the team name or the name of its stadium.

The Chiefs’ announcement after the decision by Washington’s football team to change its name increased pressure on the remaining professional teams with Native American mascots and logos to re-evaluate their names and monikers.

In addition to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Chicago Blackhawks of the N.H.L. and the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball have long resisted changing their names and logos, though the Indians dropped the mascot Chief Wahoo last year and recently said they would review the team name.

The Chiefs said the changes announced on Thursday had come after discussions that began in 2014 with a group of local leaders from diverse American Indian backgrounds as well as with a national organization that works on issues affecting American Indian people and tribes. The team did not name the organization.


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