Kansas City Chiefs rethink the Arrowhead Chop, and ceremonial drum beating

On Aug. 19 the Kansas City Chiefs released a statement through their twitter account about changes that will be made during the upcoming NFL season.

The statement began, “In 2014, we began a dialogue with a group of local leaders from diverse American Indian backgrounds and experiences. 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 Kansas City Chiefs are in current discussions about their two fan-favorite traditions: the Arrowhead Chop, and the ceremonial beating of the drum. The Arrowhead Chop also known as the “Tomahawk Chop” is when fans raise their right or left arm and begin making a chopping motion towards the air. Native American fans have complained about this celebration as it makes fun of their culture, and also references the practice of scalping.

“We are engaged in a thorough review process of the Arrowhead Chop and plan to have additional discussions in the future.” This was the only information given to the public about the now controversial Arrowhead Chop.

The beating of the drum is performed by a former organization member, celebrity or local star as a pre-game ritual. This drum beating is said to unite the players and fans as one; however, the Chiefs stated that the drum deck tradition will be slightly modified to better symbolize the spiritual importance of the drum in American Indian culture. The team states they will address modifying the drum deck tradition by discussing “…how to shift the focus of the drum to something that symbolizes the heartbeat of the stadium.”

The Chiefs ended their statement about these new changes by saying, “We are grateful for the meaningful conversations we have had with all of these American Indian leaders. It is important that we continue the dialogue on these significant topics, and we look forward to continuing to work together in the future”.

The changes will be seen immediately as the Kansas City Chiefs are one of the few NFL teams allowing fans into home games. The Chiefs will cap the attendance for these games at 22% capacity, which is 72,936 fans at 100%. This means that roughly 16,000 fans will be allowed inside of Arrowhead stadium early in the season.

The Chiefs open the 2020 NFL season with a home game against the Houston Texans on Sept. 10.

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