KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Arrowhead is going to look a lot different than we’re used to tonight and it’s not just because of coronavirus precautions.
Some changes have been made to Chiefs traditions based on Native American culture, too. The Chiefs announced many of the changes back in August.
First, headdresses or face paint will not be allowed. Second, there will be a subtle change to the tomahawk chop. The cheerleaders leading it will be doing so with a closed fist instead of an open palm.
For diehard Chiefs fans like Daniel Nelson, the tomahawk chop is just part of a tradition they’ve grown up with.
“I consider it like, when I do the chop and stuff, to be supporting my team,” he said. “But I also don’t consider it anything derogatory or anything bad towards anything race-wise, religion-wise or anything like that.”
Nelson will be in Arrowhead tonight with his wig and a face covering that’s one of a kind.
He thinks most fans won’t bother changing the way they do the tomahawk chop. “What’s the difference?” he said.
That’s one point that Native American activist Cody Hall actually agrees with. “That makes no sense,” he said.
Hall grew up on a reservation in South Dakota with a tribe that has ties to Kansas City.
“We traveled here, we lived here,” he said. “We lived here, near what is now known as Gladstone or North Kansas City.”
He said he’s glad the Chiefs have taken steps to ban Native American imagery like headdresses and war paint.
When it comes to the chop, he said: “They just need to eradicate the whole thing. Just get rid of it. Because, you do not see the Hunt family doing that. And if the Hunt family sees that it is offensive, 10 native people and their native fans, then why is it that your organization itself says, ‘It’s a part of our tradition. It’s a part of our essence as a team.’”
One diehard fan disagrees. He founded a fan organization called Chiefs Or Die which has a skull wearing a headdress as the logo.
“We’ve opened up tribes, our rendition of chapters, all over the country,” he said.
Phi-Del Blocker says his great-great grandmother was a member of the Choctaw tribe.
“We’re not disrespecting anybody doing any of this,” he said. “We’re just putting on for our team, putting on for our city, and having fun in the process. No disrespect.”
The Chiefs said conversations about Native American traditions are ongoing and more changes could come in the future.