Indigenous rights group protest football team


Mary Holt/USA TODAY Sports

(Mary Holt/USA TODAY Sports)

On Super Bowl Sunday in Tampa, a group called the Florida Indigenous Rights and Environmental Equality (FIREE) protested the Kansas City Chiefs and their fans for “mocking and appropriating indigenous cultures.” The protesters chanted and held signs outside Raymond James Stadium just two hours before kick-off.  

The use of Native American mascots in the NFL has come into question in the past couple of years. Last year, the Washington Football team removed its former name, “Redskins.” The Kansas City Chiefs recently banned its fans from wearing Native American headdresses and face paint at Arrowhead Stadium. Now the St. Petersburg-based group is calling upon the NFL to change Kansas City’s team name and ban the “Arrowhead Chop. 

“When you make indigenous people into a mascot, it’s extremely dehumanizing, especially for children…” FIREE co-founder Alicia Norris said. “This is coming to our backyard, so we’re going to say something about it.” 

The group organized the protest through Facebook, where 36 people signed up. The event organizer expressed the group’s concerns on Facebook.  

“It is time for this practice to stop,” the group said on Facebook. “We ask all human beings to recognize that American Indians are Human Beings not sports team mascots for America’s fun and games.” 

The protest began at 4:00 p.m. and the group held signs reading, “We are not Mascots,” and “Change the name and stop the chop.” 

But not everybody agrees. When asked if the Chiefs should change their name, a Plant student shared her opinion. 

 “No. It’s part of our history and it’s not an offensive name,” sophomore Sydney Butler said. 

Some Chiefs fans agree and do not consider the chop or name offensive.  

“I consider it like, when I do the chop and stuff, to be supporting my team, but I also don’t consider it anything derogatory or anything bad towards anything race-wise, religion-wise or anything like that,” said Chiefs fan Daniel Nelson to KCTV.