An end of season report where the Kansas City Chiefs are clear winners:
These plays were deftly made off the field by management. Chiefs’ leadership has consistently met with a group of Native Americans this season. The result is a two-way respect.
Chiefs’ President Mark Donovan sees the ongoing dialogues as important far beyond being a strategy to fend off the public relations storms that have engulfed other teams. It’s the right and honorable thing to do.
Donovan said as an organization, the Chiefs’ listened intently to grasp not just explanations of Indian culture, but “the reasonings behind some of the issues.”
The Native Americans, about eight people total, listened with equal intent to hear the Chiefs’ history, and why certain decisions have been made through the years.
That laid an honest starting point. The Chiefs took it forward, accepting the responsibility of the enormous platform they hold for influencing and educating fans, media and others within the NFL.
Television producers were approached. The Chiefs pressed their concerns that showcasing fans sporting headdresses, their bodies splashed with what some think is a spinoff of war paint, can be offensive. As Donovan noted, “by showing it, you are sort of promoting it.”
At one point, a proposed ad became the discussion, with the Chiefs seeking input from the Native group. It was for a cut of meat called the tomahawk chop, and there were concerns about some aspects of the ad. Some Native people found it offensive. Others did not.
The Chiefs were OK with the ambiguity, accepting early on that consensus on every issue would be impossible.
An event for Native children scheduled at Haskell Indian Nations University was moved to another location in Lawrence when it was feared that some tribal leaders would balk at working with the Chiefs. About 80 children attended.
Sunday’s game against the Chargers will include honoring inductees of the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame, which is relocating to Kansas City from Haskell.
Credit also goes to the diligent persistence of Johnny Learned, President/CEO of the American Indian Center of the Great Plains, which is establishing at the old Loretto Academy in Midtown. Learned is a negotiator, preferring education to protest.
The approach is a solid one for lasting change, for guiding people toward respecting Native cultures on their own.
To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.