American Indian superfan supports keeping Chiefs name and ‘chop,’ but happy to see headdresses go


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs said Thursday that fans are now prohibited from wearing Native American headdresses into the stadium, and there are some restrictions in place for face paint.

The moves were welcomed by Chiefs superfan Connie Jo Gillespie.

At her Grandview home, you’ll find memorabilia related to her favorite team almost everywhere you look. She was one of the fans who helped bring the Guinness Book of World Records to town proclaiming Arrowhead the loudest stadium in the world.

“Being a Chiefs fan is not just a once a week hobby for me. It’s a lifestyle,” Gillespie said.

But there’s another part of her lifestyle she’s proud of, having grandparents who were East Woodland Shawnee, Canadian Cree and Mississippi Chickasaw.

“Each feather in that headdress is earned through an act of courage bravery personal sacrifice for his people. When I see a fan wear a headdress, I have to admit it turns my stomach just a little bit,” Gillespie said.

The team also announced its engaged in a thorough review of “the chop,” something Gillespie said she doesn’t have a problem with as long as fans aren’t dressed as Native Americans. 

The announcement came with no mention of possibly changing the team name.

Gillespie said the numerous American Indians she’s spoken with agree and support the measures the Chiefs have taken the past six years since they expanded a dialogue with tribal leaders.

“There’s opportunities there to culturally educate, so that people who are not familiar with our culture learn to respect our culture and then they don’t want to appropriate it,” she said.

The team also said it’s exploring a more formal education program about American Indians with local and national partners. 

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