KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One Chiefs fan-favorite will not be returning to the field in 2021 - and it's not a player.
Warpaint is a horse that makes appearances on GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium during pregame festivities and to celebrate Chiefs touchdowns.
Chiefs President Mark Donovan said during a press conference Monday that Warpaint will be retired due to the Native American imagery of its name and appearance.
"A lot of reasons for that," Donovan said. "We just feel like it's the right thing to do. So Warpaint won't be running at Arrowhead anymore. And we'll continue the conversations. We'll continue to take the path that we've taken."
The Warpaint tradition started alongside the Chiefs franchise but was retired in 1989. It was brought back in 2009 for the 50th anniversary of the team and has remained ever since, with the exception of the 2020-21 season because of pandemic restrictions.
Many have criticized the Chiefs through the years for using names and words associated with Native American culture and have been accused of cultural appropriation.
In August 2020, the team banned some Native American imagery from the stadium, including headdresses and face painting.
One of the most contentious items is the "Tomahawk Chop" chant that fans use inside the stadium.
Other teams have also faced scrutiny for team names, including the Washington Football Team, which used to be the Washington Redskins, and the MLB's Cleveland Guardians, which was recently changed from the Cleveland Indians.
Chiefs Coach Andy Reid said Friday that the team has a good relationship with the Native American community.
Donovan said the team has a good Native American working group that provides feedback.
"We're going to continue to create opportunities to educate, create awareness and work exactly as we have over the past eight years now with the working group," he said. "We've expanded our working group to get more voices. As I've said before, one of the things you find within the American Indian community, which is not unlike any community, is there are divergent views."
Donovan said the organization is proud of the changes they made for the last season.
He emphasized continued education for both the organization and fans and the importance of creating opportunities to create awareness.
Donovan cited the education given about the drum that is beat before games and for celebrations. He said that when the organization originally started that tradition, they knew nothing about it. They took the steps for the Native American people to educate them and bless the drum.
He said that there has been mention of removing the drum, but the Native American working group members get very emotional about that and are proud of what that drum means to their culture.