“While we have discouraged fans from wearing headdresses for several years, effective immediately,” the NFL team said in a statement, fans will be banned from entering Arrowhead Stadium if they wear headdresses.
Fans will also be asked to remove face painting that is “styled in a way that references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions” to enter the stadium, the team said.
The Chiefs are one of several American sports teams that have appropriated Native American imagery and traditions. On Thursday, it became the latest team to announce changes after years of criticism.
Last month, the NFL’s Washington franchise announced it was retiring its logo and Redskins name, following weeks of protests denouncing racism across the country and mounting pressure from corporate sponsors. The team will be called Washington Football Team during the upcoming season.
The Chiefs said the ban was a result of discussions with “a group of local leaders from diverse American Indian backgrounds and experiences” over the past six years.
Those conversations were held in an effort “to gain a better understanding of the issues facing American Indian communities in our region,” the team said.
The new fan policies announced Thursday could be only the beginning of changes.
The team’s leadership is reviewing the fans’ use of the controversial tomahawk chop – used by at least two other American teams – as well as Arrowhead Stadium’s area known as “Drum Deck,” where people hit a giant, native-style drum embellished with the team’s logo to open each game.
The Chiefs said they will continue conversations with indigenous leaders, which have already impacted the way they honor Native Americans during a Blessing of the Drum and the Blessing of the Four Directions.