Sports Magazine – January 23rd Edition

Laurie Tritschler – January 23, 2020

Whose Chiefs are they, anyway?

Mohawk media executive and former sports journalist, Vincent Schilling, applauds the athleticism and tenacity behind Kansas City’s win in last Sunday’s AFC Championship. But Schilling took to Twitter after the Chiefs took down the Tennessee Titans to draw attention to KC’s phoney Native American heritage. His viral thread started with a look at the team’s  “Mic-o-Say Tomahawk Chop” and suggested Super Bowl LIV be renamed “the Appropriation Bowl.”

It’s bad enough that the Chiefs take their name from Kansas City Mayor, Harold Roe Bartle—the jovial fat man whose penchant for cigars and Native American headdresses earned him the nickname “Chief” from his non-Native pals.

What Schilling finds particularly offensive is that Chiefs’ fans aren’t letting go of a long and painful chapter in Native American history where tribal elders self-censored their own cultures for fear of settler-colonial violence. Schilling said in an interview Wednesday that his grandmother never spoke to him in her native Mohawk tongue, and never shared with him anything scarcely related to his Mohawk heritage, believing the young Schilling would be taken from his family by local nuns and forced into a residential school.

That’s exactly what happened to her and her siblings and countless other Native American children across the United States well into the twentieth century. Meanwhile, Mayor Bartle formed a fake Native American reserve, the Mic-O-Say, so that area Boy Scouts in 1928 could play Indian at sleep away camp. As Schilling notes in his thread, the equally fake Mic-O-Say reservation still exists. This is the legacy team-founder Lamar Hunt (as in, Lamar Hunt Trophy) drew upon when he named “the Chiefs” after Bartle in 1963.

Schilling put paid to recalcitrant fans’ insistence that their  on BCIT Sports Magazine this week: The bona fide Mohawk and former sports journalist was raised to fear his people’s languagethe lifeblood of his cultural identity—and he’s upset that as many as +78,000 fans still revel in indigenous minstrel theatre every time Arrowhead Stadium erupts into the Tomahawk Chop.

“When I see someone take, brazenly, this Indian culture as their own, and form it into something like a tomahawk chop, and I think of my grandmother who was so afraid to even be Indian? And then someone else can come in a say, ‘We’re going to be Native because we’re honouring you.’ Well, I didn’t ask for the honour.”

Vincent SchillingMohawk writer & former sports journalist, V.P., Schilling Media, Inc.visit Schilling’s website

All that, & more, on this week’s edition of Sports Mag:

The Passion of the fans…

Be a fan, but show some respect

With Super Bowl ratings at a ten-year low, many Chiefs fans aren’t taking kindly to Schilling’s use of the hashtag, #Appropriationbowl. Meanwhile, the number of angry replies to his thread by non-Native people has prompted Schilling’s resort to the hashtag, #NoIWontJustMoveOn. It’s not hard to see why he wouldn’t, given the media research firm Nielsen’s finding that last year’s game still drew a whopping 98.2 million viewers.

If history is to be any guide, we might see the Mic-0-Say Tomahawk chop flash across 100 million TV screens during Superbowl LIV.

The Chiefs last made it into the Superbowl in 1970. And as a long-time sports journalist, Schilling told BCIT Sports Magazine that he appreciates KC fans have every right to cheer for their team in Superbowl 54. He just wants them to show Native Americans their due respect.

Vincent Schilling is an associate editor at Indian Country Today. He co-founded the media relations firm, Schilling Media, Inc., which caters to indigenous clients in the United States and Canada.