Indigenous representation in the Super Bowl
LAS VEGAS — At least two Indigenous players are set to take the field in America’s biggest game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, as the Kansas City NFL team will take on the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII Feb. 11.
Both play on the Kansas City offensive line and are back to defend last year’s Super Bowl championships. They are center Creed Humphrey, of the Potawatomi Nation, and long snapper James Winchester, of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
Kansas City is a team on a dynastic run appearing in its fourth championship game in five seasons. It took home the title in 2023 and is looking to be the first team since the 2003-04 New England Patriots to win back-to-back titles.
Speaking to ICT before last year’s game in Arizona, Winchester said it’s exciting to play in the game and it means a great deal to him to represent his nation.
“It represents something bigger than myself. It represents the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and so many back home with my family and friends that I love and appreciate,” Winchester told ICT in 2023. “It’s such a cool thing to represent a nation and my family, so that’s probably what means the most to me to play in the Super Bowl.”
Since entering the league as a second-round pick in the 2021 draft, Humphrey has been among the best centers in the league.
Before the season began, Pro Football Focus ranked Humphrey as the best at the position.
There will also be an Indigenous presence on the sidelines. A San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush cheerleader identifies as Apache on the team’s website. Her name is listed as Cassie.
The Super Bowl is a rematch from 2020, where Kansas City beat San Francisco 31-20. The game will be nationally televised on CBS at 6:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 11.
Native advocates have long called for the Kansas City franchise to change its name and to #StopTheChop, referring to a racist and stereotypical chant and arm motion long done by fans.
The team is said to be named after former mayor Harold Roe Bartle, a non-Native man who helped bring the team to Kansas City in the 1960s.
With the game under two weeks away, demonstrations will likely take place protesting the team name leading up to and on the day of the game.
San Francisco’s team name relates to the California Gold Rush of 1849, when tens of thousands of people flocked to the state in search of gold.
The influx of people led to the displacement and mass killings of California’s Native population. According to History.com between 9,000 and 16,000 were murdered and 80 percent of the Indigenous population died in the 20 years after the gold rush.
With an average of 100 million viewers, there will undoubtedly be a lot of eyes on this year’s matchup.