American Indian Community Working Group

American Indian Community Working Group

The American Indian Community Working Group serves as a collective liaison with the Native community and as an advisor to the Kansas City Chiefs to promote an awareness and understanding of Native cultures and tribes in the region.

The working group is comprised of eight individuals who have experience working in intertribal communities and with diverse Native cultures.

In addition, the working group members have a strong collective experience in working with education, job creation, culture programs and youth team sports relationships in Native communities.

Current Members:

  • John Learned (Cheyenne-Arapaho)
  • Gary Johnson (Choctaw)
  • Dr. Ronald Graham (Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma/ President, Haskell Indian Nations University)
  • Camilla Chouteau (Prairie Band Potawatomi)
  • Tim Rhodd (Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska)
  • Crystal Herriage (Ho-Chunk)
  • Mary Thorpe (Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma/Granddaughter of Jim Thorpe)
  • Richard Lanoue

Past Members:

  • Gena Timberman (Choctaw)
  • Elwood Pipestem-Ott (Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Oklahoma)
  • Ernie Stevens Jr. (Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin)
  • Cody Hall (Lakota)

American Indian Community Working Group Statement

The opportunity to engage in a dialogue with the Kansas City Chiefs is an opportunity for the American Indian Community Working Group to be consistent with the mission of creating an awareness and understanding of issues affecting Native people. Native people and American Indian tribes have consistently encouraged consultation with our communities to better understand and address issues affecting us.

The American Indian Community Working Group respects the diverse perspectives that exist in Indian Country on broadly addressing the mascot issue in our nation. We recognize the opportunity to engage in a cross-cultural consultation and dialogue with the Kansas City Chiefs in hopes of facilitating a process that – over time – can lead to a cultural change in disrespectful behavior seen at times by some fans at NFL games. This journey began more than five years ago when we first contacted the Chiefs, and as we embark on this year's celebration of American Indian Heritage Month, we appreciate their continued and sincere effort to better understand the issues from a Native perspective. We have been educated on the history and values of the Chiefs organization; and, we believe there is an opportunity to educate on the issues through connecting our community here and honoring traditions.

The consultation in which we are engaging is part of an ongoing process that we hope can serve as a model to be implemented by other teams in other communities.