Most of the furor over the involvement of Native American names for professional sports teams has focused on whether the Washington Redskins should change their longtime moniker, and rightly so. It is offensive.
But what about the Kansas City Chiefs? Should the team alter its name, too?
In a lengthy report released this month, the National Congress of American Indians indicated its displeasure once again with the Redskins name. But it added some pretty tough language about other major league teams in other cities that have long ago adopted Native American names for their squads.
The Chiefs, in fact, were among those singled out for shame.
As the Congress noted:
“Often citing a long-held myth by non-Native people that ‘Indian’ mascots ‘honor Native people,’ American sports businesses such as the NFL’s Washington ‘Redsk*ns’ and Kansas City ‘Chiefs,’ MLB’s Cleveland ‘Indians’ and Atlanta ‘Braves,’ and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, continue to profit from harmful stereotypes originated during a time when white superiority and segregation were common place.”
“Each of these professional sports businesses attempt to establish a story of honoring Native peoples through the names or mascots; however, each one — be it through logos or traditions (e.g., fight songs, mascots, human impersonators and fan culture) — diminishes the place, status and humanity of contemporary Native citizens.
“What is true about many of the brand origin stories is that team owners during the birth of these brands hoped to gain financially from mocking Native identity. As a result, these business perpetuated racial and political inequity. Those who have kept their logos and brands continue to do so.”
The report goes on to note that hundreds of universities and high schools have changed their Indian-related names.
And the Congress pointed out that — since the Chiefs were born in 1963 — “no professional teams have established new mascots that use racial stereotypes in their names and imagery.”
The point: The teams found out long ago this practice was offensive and stopped adding new names with American Indian references.
The further point: The professional teams still using the names — such as the Chiefs — are being offensive to Indians as well.
What do you think?
UPDATE 1 p.m.: Just this week, the Cleveland Indians began asking their fans’ opinions about the team’s Chief Wahoo logo.