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 language—the 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.