PHOENIX, AZ – A rally and news conference for respectful representation of Indigenous
Peoples will be held in Glendale, Arizona on Sunday, December 7, 2014. The events will
coincide with an NFL game at University of Phoenix Stadium where the Kansas City
Chiefs will play against the Arizona Cardinals.
Arizona to Rally Against Native Mascots, a sponsor of the demonstrations, calls on the
National Football League to hear our concerns that the continued mockery of Indigenous
culture, by way of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Washington Redskins, has to stop.
While one of the team’s names is a dictionary defined racial slur both team names
engrain stereotypes and perceptions among their fan bases that hurt Indigenous People.
Amanda Blackhorse, founder of the grassroots group Arizona to Rally Against Native
Mascots and plaintiff in Blackhorse et al. v. Pro-Football Inc., urges the Kansas City
Chiefs to change their team name. Blackhorse states, “The NFL and other professional
sports are the culprits of promoting harmful Native stereotypes through mascots. The
institution of Native mascotry is a billion dollar business with which Native people, a
disenfranchised group have no ownership. We are not asking for ownership, we are
asking to be treated fairly and the NFL can do that by withdrawing from using Native
American imagery and names in their marketing.”
Stereotypes of Native Americans is visually apparent at Kansas City Chiefs game which
entail the banging of a large “Indian” drum, fans motioning their arms in the tomahawk
chop, and wearing of fake headdresses. Although the NFL team has attempted to gain
support of their offensive behavior through a taskforce and blessing of their drum, the
disparaging attitude and behaviors of their fans will still continue without truly changing
their team’s name. Tara Houska, a founding member of Not Your Mascots states, “It is
appalling that in this day and age, it is acceptable to openly mock Native Americans
through cheap stereotypes like ‘the chop’ and a faux ‘drum ceremony’. Drums are sacred
objects that are an integral part of Native religious practices; would the greater public be
fine with communion being mimicked for a sporting event? Native Americans are real
people with rich and diverse cultures, we aren’t mascots.”
Following the October 12th Washington vs. Cardinals game where Washington fans were
allowed in the University of Phoenix Stadium wearing redface and fake headdress,
Nicholet Deschine Parkhurst, member of Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry, spoke with
John Drum Vice President of Stadium Operations at the Arizona Cardinals Football
Club and called on the Cardinals to develop a policy against the mockery of Native
Americans and irreverence of traditional items such as the headdress which is sacred to
certain Indigenous cultures. Such a policy has yet to be seen.
As the December 7 game approaches and since Kansas City fans are known to engage in
redface and wear fake headdresses Arizona to Rally Against Native Mascots requests that
the Arizona Cardinals show respect to the 21 American Indian tribes in Arizona and
develop a policy in coordination with advocates and Native American leaders that will
not permit redface and fake headdresses into the University of Phoenix Stadium.
We appreciate that the Arizona Cardinals did not use the Washington team’s name
“Redskins” in their October 12 Facebook banner but we believe the Arizona Cardinals
can do better to address the concerns of disparagement against Indigenous cultures that
results when teams have names associated with the race of a group.
Arizona to Rally Against Native Mascots is a group of Arizonians who advocate for the
elimination of Native American mascots in pro-sports mascots and logos. The group
rallied against the MLB’s Cleveland team’s Chief Wahoo at the June 25 Diamondbacks
game and organized a protest against the Washington NFL team’s racist name and
mascot at the October 12th Arizona Cardinals game that was a kick-off for a number of
other protests across the county in Texas, Minnesota, California, Indianan, and Maryland
that were hosted by other organizations and groups.
The December 7 protest against the Kansa City Chiefs is organized by Arizona to Rally
Against Native Mascots; Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry; Indigenous Action
Media; and Not Your Mascots.