Local American Indians On The Chiefs' Name | KCUR

Local American Indians On The Chiefs' Name

Jun 30, 2014

Credit Flickr, .sanden.

The U.S. Patent Office revoked the Washington Redskins’ trademark, which has some Kansas City sports fans concerned about the fate of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Last year the National Congress of American Indians released a report that included the Chiefs in a list of sports teams they said profited from harmful stereotypes.

Richard Lanoue, President of the Indian Council of Many Nations which is based in Kansas City, doesn’t see it that way. Lanoue says the term “redskins” is racially disparaging but "chief" is different.

"The word chief is a word that means honor, respect, experience, knowledge," says Lanoue.

Lanoue also believes those offended by the name don’t understand its heritage. The Chiefs were named after former mayor H. Roe Bartle, who bonded with and was inducted into an Arapaho tribe while living in Wyoming. Bartle was nicknamed “Chief” and even when he was mayor the nickname stuck. “More people called him ‘Chief’ than they did ‘Mayor’,” Lanoue says.

Lanoue says he and the community he represents aren’t interested in changing the Chiefs name out of respect for Bartle and the relationship he had with the Arapaho. In fact, Lanoue says many local Native American groups support the Chiefs and some members are even long-time ticket holders.