Guest column: The irony of Kansas City winning Super Bowl LVII

Football (Image/Adobe Stock)

Football (Image/Adobe Stock)

Kansas City’s James Winchester snapped the most important play of the Super Bowl. The pressure didn't faze him.

This gave Kansas City another Super Bowl win against the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-35, in the last four years. The team won the Super Bowl LVII in 2020.

For Winchester, Choctaw and #41, he will be adding a second Super Bowl ring to his collection. He won his first Super Bowl in 2020 with Kansas City. This was his third time playing in the Super Bowl for the team. (Fun fact: He started his NFL career in 2013 with the Philadelphia Eagles before he was released and signed with Kansas City in 2015.)

Leading up to the big game, Winchester told ICT he was excited to play in the Super Bowl.

“Not many people get to do that,” he said.

This is Creed Humphrey’s first Super Bowl win. He is the Kansas City Chiefs starting center and is from the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. He told ICT that he wanted to work for a ring and he certainly did.

Super Bowl LVII had a huge Indigenous presence from beginning to end.

From the NFL’s “marquee artist,” Lucinda “La Morena” Hinojos to two Indigenous brands representing the league’s new merchandise for the game, and all the Native artists during Super Bowl’s opening night.

Also involved in the pre-game work was Kasey Gchachu, Zuni Pueblo. He prepped on the sound for the big game, his fifth Super Bowl, his wife told the Albuquerque Journal. “He is really good at what he does, so they put him on for the Super Bowl and they send about three or four guys,” according to the Journal.

While Gchachu made sure the sound for America’s entertainment was pristine, the Gila River Indian Community hosted the Philadelphia Eagles at its resort, Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass in Gila River on sovereign lands.

Before the game, Colin Denny, Navajo, wore his traditional Navajo attire while performing in American Sign Language and Plains Indian Sign Language during “America the Beautiful.”

On the field were four Indigenous players (Winchester and Humphrey on Kansas City, and Jordan Mailata and Isaac Seumalo who are both Samoan and play for the Eagles) who fought for the coveted Lombardi Trophy, and the likely first Cherokee Nation referee to officiate the Super Bowl made sure they did it fairly.

Even with the high Indigenous visibility, the irony spoke loudly during Sunday’s game.

“The irony of a Cherokee ref, a Navajo ASL interpreter for America the Beautiful, and a racist mascot all co-existing at #SuperBowlLVII,” one tweeted.

It continued with the chant that can be heard or chop that can be seen if watching from home or in the stadium throughout the game.

The win for Kansas City made the irony louder than ever for spectators, demonstrators and Native people watching (or not watching) the game when they saw the words, “End Racism” stamped on the Kansas City helmets.

Not Your Mascot posts flooded social media feeds before, during and after the game.

Longtime Not Your Mascot activist Suzan Harjo, Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee, who petitioned the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to get six of the Washington NFL team’s racist trademarks canceled in 1992, reminded fans of an alternative perspective that two things can be true at once.

“Super (Bowl) Fans, You can do two things at once: love your Kansas City team and reject its ‘Native’ stereotypes and disrespect of actual Native Peoples,” she wrote on Facebook.

Will Kansas City listen, consider changing the name and drop the chop with this year’s Super Bowl Indigenous presence? Never say never. Look at the Washington NFL team.

At least two things are for sure: Rihanna is pregnant with her second child and her music will be trending for days after that stellar performance.

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, is editor of Indian Country Today and based in the Washington bureau

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