A self-described lifelong Kansas City Chiefs fan once asked me the meaning of the words that are sung as the crowd performs the “Arrowhead Chop” at Chiefs games, the beloved fan chant made up of a series of literal “oh oh oh”s.
They don’t mean anything,” I told him, disgusted and annoyed.
“Really, nothing at all?”
My face got hot and I could feel my heart beating fast in my chest. “Nothing,” I repeated.
This is just one example of the uncomfortable situations I deal with as an Acoma Pueblo woman living in the Kansas City area.
This year, my city’s NFL football team, the Chiefs, will be playing San Francisco in the Super Bowl. It has been a 50-year wait for the team, and from the looks of it, they are the favorite to win. Unfortunately, that also means the Arrowhead Chop will be broadcast on millions of screens across the nation, along with fans in headdresses and all that comes with having a team that has a Native American mascot. For years, the national conversation around offensive team mascots that stereotype Native American culture has focused on the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians, while Kansas City’s Chiefs flew under the radar.
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