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Normalizing White Settler Colonialism at the Super Bowl

January 29, 2020

I work in an adult foster care home and a couple of weekends ago, residents were watching the AFC playoff game between Tennessee and Kansas City, a game which was played in Kansas City.

During the game I could hear the hometown fans doing a chant that was essentially an stereotypical chant or song that indigenous people might use. In addition, Kansas City fans were also doing the tomahawk chop, something that the Atlanta Braves baseball team also does.

There were also fans dressed in native regalia, like the person shown here in the right. This use of dress or song and even the tomahawk chop is all rather offensive and more importantly it is racist.

This Sunday, the Kansas City team will be playing in the biggest game in the NFL and the most viewed sports event in the US, the Super Bowl. What this means is that the Kansas City team, known as the Chiefs, and their fans will most certainly continue to use and abuse indigenous dress and spiritual practice, thus further normalizing a White Settler Colonial narrative.

If you watch the game, listen to see if the people doing the game commentary will bother to bring up this issue. It’s not likely to be addressed and it is not likely that there will be much news coverage of the protests that are likely to take place outside the stadium.

Native American groups are opposing the use racist stereotypes and the fact that the Kansas City team actually plays a “war drum” before their games.

This is not a new issue, but it is something that those of us who are not part of First Nations need to seriously examine and not participate in.

In West Michigan, there has been a battle to get rid of the racist use of the name Redskins by the Paw Paw High School. In Grand Rapids, Ottawa Hills High School used to be the Indians, but through organizing, the name was changed to the Bengals.

The bottom line is that we need to listen to and respect the wishes of the Native America community about what names, logos or mascots are offensive and inappropriate.

There are lots of great resources on this topic that have produced by indigenous people. Check out the documentary entitled, More Than A Word.

Read a powerful essay by Ward Churchill, who talks about how Nazi Germany racist images of Jews and how that relates to racist images used by sports teams. 

Become educated and find out how white settler colonialism is being played out in your community.

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