Opinion | Sports

Column: Kansas City NFL team reaches out to Indian community






A cheerleader for the Kansas City Chiefs prepares to ride Warpaint onto stadium grounds. Photo from KC Chiefs

The Kansas City NFL team is hoping to avoid a negative battle over its use of Indian imagery:
In Washington, D.C., the owner of the NFL team there continues a legal battle after the United States Patent and Trademark Office canceled the trademarks of the Redskins. Amanda Blackhorse, the woman behind that case, told The Star in June that the fight would come to the Chiefs soon enough.

Increasingly, the Chiefs are insulating themselves from that fight. It’s similar to the strategy used by the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks and the Florida State Seminoles. It’s basically the opposite strategy used by the NFL team in Washington.

“I think we have the same goals,” says John Learned, president and CEO of the American Indian Center of the Great Plains in Kansas City.

“We have an opportunity to re-engage and to understand what it is to respect cultures,” says Gena Timberman, an advisory member of Learned’s group.

This week, Learned (in person) and Timberman (on a conference call) were among those who met with Chiefs president Mark Donovan and senior vice president of business operations Bill Chapin at Arrowhead Stadium.

This was one of two meetings the Chiefs have had in the last 10 days, part of their grander hope to build a bridge with American Indians instead of engaging in a fight. The Chiefs have reached out to several Indian groups, though Blackhorse — who has strong local ties — is a notable exception.

Get the Story:
Sam Mellinger: To avoid a cultural free-for-all, Chiefs form alliance with American Indian groups (The Kansas City Star 8/7)