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Activist rips Chiefs ahead of Super Bowl LVII, labels organization 'cruel insult to Native Americans'


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A Native American activist ripped the Kansas City Chiefs in an op-ed published hours before the team is set to take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII.

Rhonda LeValdo, a member of the Not in Our Honor Coalition and the subject of the documentary "Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting," implored the organization to change its name and completely remove the so-called tomahawk chop celebration.

The piece was published in Rolling Stone and was titled "The Super Bowl’s Kansas City Chiefs Are a Cruel Insult to Native Americans."

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"With another Super Bowl coming up, the Kansas City football team once again chooses to make a mockery of Native cultures and people with their ‘arrowhead’ chop, offensive name, and overall bastardizing of our traditions," LeValdo wrote. "There is statistical data that shows it has an impact on our people. But why do we need to prove this with quantitative data? If someone says it hurts them, we should believe them! No other group of people needs to prove this with numbers to say, ‘Oh okay, I believe them now.’"

She likened the U.S. government’s establishment of Native American reservations and the deaths that occurred during that time to the Holocaust. She insisted it wasn’t about being politically correct but putting the trauma Native Americans have suffered in the forefront of everyone’s minds.

"This is not about being politically correct," she wrote. "It is about understanding the atrocities and continued historical trauma we as Native people face through the stereotypes that Kansas City football perpetuates."

LeValdo will be joined by others from Kansas City and tribes in Arizona to protest against the Chiefs in Glendale before Super Bowl LVII takes place at State Farm Stadium.

The Chiefs have been the target of protests in the past.

Team president Mark Donovan has said there has been no indication for changes to the name.

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"We also respect that we need to continue to educate and raise awareness of the Native American culture and the things we do to celebrate, that we’ve done more over the last seven years – I think – than any other team to raise awareness and educate ourselves," he said.

Kansas City has banned fans from donning headdresses, war paint and clothing at Arrowhead Stadium. The team attempted to change the tomahawk chop celebration with cheerleaders using a closed fist and an open palm.

The Chiefs started as the Dallas Texans in 1960 and moved to Kansas City in 1963. Mayor H. Rose Bartle got permission from the Northern Arapaho at the time and the team recently documented tribal officials confirming it, Donovan said.

"We haven’t released it yet. We are waiting for the right timing to tell the story right," he added.

LeValdo, who is friends with a former Northern Arapaho leader, called the assertion "fake" earlier in the week. She said Native American organizers won’t give up on trying to rid major sports of "offensive" mascots, names and imagery.

"There are young people that come with us as well," she said. "We’re looking forward to the next generation that’s going to carry that. There’s always going to be Native people who are against it. It’s not going to stop."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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