Kansas City Chiefs ban fans from wearing headdresses and Native American-inspired face paint in the stadium

Kansas City Chiefs fans who attend games at Arrowhead Stadium will no longer be allowed to wear headdresses or face paint that “references or appropriates American Indian cultures,” the team announced Thursday. The team said the new measures are an effort to help raise awareness of Native American cultures and minimize cultural appropriation.

Fans who arrive at the stadium with face painting will be asked to remove it prior to going through security checkpoints.

“In 2014, we began a dialogue with a group of local leaders from diverse American Indian backgrounds and experiences,” the team said in a statement. “As an organization, our goal was to gain a better understanding of the 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.”

The NFL team is also looking at modifying or changing some of its traditions. The Arrowhead Chop, which involves chopping the arm perpendicular to the ground and has been criticized as an offensive stereotype, is undergoing a “thorough review process.”

The stadium’s drum deck, which sits among the stadium seats and holds a large drum that is played while fans find their seats, may also be modified. There are discussions, the team said, about how “to shift the focus of the drum to something that symbolizes the heartbeat of the stadium.”

Drums and drum ceremonies play a significant role in the culture of Native American tribes, particularly at powwows. 

“We are exploring all options for a modified engagement moment from the Drum Deck that maintains a unifying effect between our fans and our players but better represents the spiritual significance of the drum in American Indian cultures,” the team said.

The 2020 season will include some of the Chiefs’ traditions, including the Blessing of the Four Directions, the Blessing of the Drum, and inviting tribal members to participate in the American Indian Heritage Month Game in November or December. 

The reigning Super Bowl champions on Monday said that stadium capacity will be cut to 22% to kick off the season, which begins on September 10. The decision, according to CBS Sports, is to allow fans to social distance and maintain other health protocols to protect themselves during the coronavirus pandemic. 

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