I am a Tweeter. For those few who don’t know, that means I am on Twitter. I belong for three basic reasons.
First, I follow many people, including students, in the Independence School District so I can keep up with what is going on in the lives of the various schools with students, teachers and administrators. I have been called the Number 1 cheerleader for the school district, a tag I wear proudly
Secondly, I follow many professional sports people, primarily to keep up with the Chiefs and Royals. I also follow Joe Posnanski (Jo Po) so I can read his posts and columns. Jo Po is a national treasure, and if you are not reading his columns, you should. Joe lived in Kansas City and started his family here while working for The Kansas City Star.
His family and he are huge Chiefs’ fans, and a most recent post about his teenage daughter watching the Super Bowl is to be treasured along with his trip to see “Hamilton” with her. Before Kobe Bryant’s passing made the relationship of father-daughter so relevant, Joe was proudly writing about his relationship with his daughter.
My final reason for being on Twitter is to follow political stuff, mostly on the national level. This is going to be a tough year to do this. I have found that I must bite my Twitter tongue frequently as I have friends I follow on the opposite side of the political spectrum. I am trying to be gracious.
Last Sunday, while I was waiting for the Super Bowl festivities to begin, a young lady I have great respect and admiration for, and who will undoubtedly hold high political office someday, tweeted that the Chiefs’ chop should be stopped and that we need to quit embarrassing Kansas City. I rarely respond to such Tweets, but I thought that she might not know the history of the Chiefs since she was not alive in 1963.
I informed her and the thousands of people that follow her that the Chiefs were named after a former mayor of Kansas City, H. Roe Bartle. Mayor Bartle was affectionately known as the Chief because he was the founder of the Tribe of Mic-O-Say at the H. Roe Bartle Boy Scout Reservation in Osceola, Missouri. I am a “hardway warrior” in the Tribe of Mic-O-Say and although I have not been back to scout camp since my last 10 days as a Boy Scout in the late 1960s, I am proud of my Mic-O-Say heritage.
After I responded to the tweet about the “chop” I received a reply from one of the followers who asked me what actual connection Mic-O-Say has to native culture “other than to have white boys play dress up.” I was tempted to respond by suggesting that her reply was both racist and bigoted, but I did not. However, I have been troubled by her reply since Monday when she posted it.
This is troubling on multiple levels. First, Boy Scouts is not a “white boy” organization so to suggest it is such is borne of ignorance. Secondly, to suggest Mic-O-Say is playing dress up demeans the thousands upon thousands of us who have gone through the rigorous process of becoming a member of the Tribe.
I don’t recall everything in my childhood, but I have vivid memories of my Mic-O-Say experience. As a 13-year-old boy, being taken into the woods with a total stranger to spend the night alone was traumatic. We were also ordered to remain silent for 24 hours, which is a distinct challenge when you are afraid, alone and 13. We also fasted and then spent the next day in hard labor, which was very challenging on a hot July day.
We also went through a soul-searching time when we thought about our relationship with our families, God and country, followed by an interview with a Scout leader. I took this time very seriously and was emotional as I went through the process. The whole experience was life changing. It all began with the one who they called Chief.
I happen to have significant Cherokee blood. If you knew my mother, you could see the Cherokee Indian ancestry in her as she had beautiful olive skin and dark brown hair. I did not realize this when I was going through the Mic-O-Say induction, but it makes me even prouder to be a member of the Tribe.
Mayor Bartle had a wonderful vision for young Boy Scouts, and it has blessed hundreds of thousands of young boys and Scout leaders who became honorary warriors. That legacy is part of the legacy of the Kansas City Chiefs, and I think most people agree that the name of the Chiefs and the “chop” are not demeaning to the Native culture. I attend most Chiefs’ games and I am not a regular chopper, but it is quite a sight to see thousands of people doing it. On Wednesday, at several points during the parade and ceremony at Union Station, there were literally hundreds of thousands of people doing the chop.
Although I respect the opinions of those who feel differently, I just think it is important to understand the history of the name. I understand the criticism of the Washington Redskins, but their name will not change. I think we should choose to embrace Native American cultures. Our own county is named after a president who horribly abused the American Indian. The Trail of Tears forcing the Cherokee Indians from their homes to Oklahoma is one of the great tragedies of American History. No one is suggesting we change the name of our county.
Instead, let’s come together and celebrate one of the greatest victories in Super Bowl history and remember the Chief.
Bob Buckley is an attorney in Independence, www.wagblaw.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org