The Kansas City Chiefs will prohibit the wearing of Native American headdresses, face paint and clothing at Arrowhead Stadium.
They also are discussing the future of the iconic tomahawk chop cheer.
The team said in a statement on Thursday that the changes came after conversations with organizations that work closely on issues that affect Native Americans. They also come on the heels of the Washington Redskins choosing to drop their name.
“In 2014, we began a dialogue with a group of local leaders form diverse American Indian backgrounds and experiences,” the team said in its statement.
“As an organization, our goal was to gain a better understanding of issues facing American Indian communities in our region and explore opportunities to both raise awareness of American Indian cultures and celebrate the rich traditions of tribes with a historic connection to the Kansas City area.”
In response to that initial collaboration, the Chiefs began celebrating American Indian Heritage Month by inviting elders to a game each year and having them do a ceremonial “Blessing of the Drum and the Four Directions of Arrowhead Stadium.”
Those discussions also led to the Chiefs discouraging the wearing of ceremonial headdresses and face paint, though they were still seen throughout Arrowhead Stadium on game days.
Now, those fans wearing headdresses and face paint will be stopped at the gate and prohibited from entering the facility.
The Chiefs also said they are “engaged in a thorough review process of the Arrowhead Chop,” which is also used by fans of the Florida State Seminoles, Atlanta Braves and other sports teams.
The team also hopes to shift the focus of the war drum that is pounded at the start of games to “something that symbolizes the heartbeat of the stadium.”
The Chiefs have made other changes throughout the years to distance themselves from Native American imagery.
The pinto horse named Warpaint that rides onto the field was for years ridden by a man in full Native American garb, but is now ridden by a cheerleader instead.
Despite the changes, there have been occasional demonstrations at Chiefs games. Some Native Americans sought to have the Arizona Cardinals bar face paint when the Chiefs visited several years ago, and protests took place in Minnesota in 2015 before a game against the Vikings.
The team did not address its nickname, its logo or the name of Arrowhead Stadium itself in its statement.
“We are grateful for the meaningful conversations we have had with all of these American Indian leaders,” the team said.
“It is important we continue the dialogue on these significant topics and we look forward to continuing to work together.”
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