The Indian’s “Chops”: Offensive or Not?

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Aspen Deslongchamps, Editor-in-Chief

“The Kansas City Chiefs will no longer allow fans to wear headdresses at games and are “engaged in a thorough review process” of the “Arrowhead Chop,” the team announced Thursday. … “We are grateful for the meaningful conversations we have had with all of these American Indian leaders,” the Chiefs said in a statement.”

-USA Today.com

In modern society, we have become extremely aware (socially and politically) of the importance of protecting minority groups and cutting out anything that is deemed overly offensive and inappropriate, to ensure freedom of expression for all in America. 

This is seen even here in Wentzville, Missouri. Our mascot, the Holt Indians, founded in 1896, has made a lasting impact on faculty, alumni, and current students alike. From the Chant to the Fight Song by the Holt Band, the Holt Indians have brought pride and memories for generations.

But recently, an issue has arrived with a classic action of school spirit. The “Chops” is the movement of swinging your forearm up and down, in the manner of the Native American tomahawk. This is commonly used at football games, pep rallies, and during the Fight Song. 

So, the  school community was asked one question: “Are the Indian “Chops” offensive?”

OPINION 1: The “Chops” Are Offensive

The first opinion in many students is that the Indian “Chops” is offensive. This is commonly believed because the action of imitating a tomahawk could be seen as disrespectful towards the indeginious people of America.


“… Nobody should ever have their culture used as a mascot. Even our own ‘mascot’ is highly offensive to Indigenous people. They are not ‘Indians’ and should never have their culture taken from them…” Natalie Triller (‘24) said. 

In today’s society, it is deemed very important for every culture to be represented and respected equally. However, when is the line crossed from respecting to making fun of? People with with opinion believe that the motion is racist and too stereotypical for respect.

I feel like teams, in general, should just stick with animals or people that don’t necessarily have a race (i.e. Spartans, Vikings, etc) because although there are historically accurate/inaccurate ways to portray them, this is a case of cultural appropriation,” Ollie Miller (‘22) said. “ …Maybe I think this way because I am about 1/3 Native American and my great grandmother greatly showed off her culture, but overall I’d say it is offensive if you relate said gesture to a “glorification” of the Native American race.”

Miller believes that it depends on the circumstances and upon the people themselves. Although there may be many loopholes there, there is still a percentage of students, parents, and teachers that do not believe that the issue is an issue at all.

OPINION 2: The “Chops” Are Not Offensive

The second outlook on this issue is that the “Chops” or the “Arrowhead/Tomahawk Chops” are not offensive and demeaning, but rather that it is a celebration of indigenous culture. This is shown in pride and in awe of those who are a part of this culture.

“The “Chops” is simply a and gesture that we have used for many years in the past,” Randi Carney (’23) said. “It’s a motion used at sporting events just like clapping and shaking a fist or whistling. Thinking that’s offensive is like trying to change our mascot to be the “Native Americans” instead of the “Indian” or changing “Indian Style” to “Criss Cross” honestly I don’t know why people would find it offensive when there is plenty of other things that people do that are way more offensive.”

Of course, this bleeds into many other topics of discussion, but the “Chops” are focused on here today. Carney states that the motion is just like that of innocently cheering on a teammate and that the action is just one to encourage the players and anyone else on the team.

“My entire father’s side is full-blood Indian, from the Blackfoot Tribe,” Wyatt Brewer (’21) states. “They thought it was not offensive at all.”

This is an exclusive outlook on this topic and opinion since Brewer’s family descends from the indigenous people. According to this opinion, if the Native Americans are not taking the offensive, why should “we” (or they)?

As Adison McAllister (’22) said, the opposing side sees the indigenous people as  “warriors”; someone to look up to. By using the Indian mascot, this side believes that it upholds the Native American culture, and puts them on a high pedestal of respect.

OPINION 3: The Middleground of the “Chops”

This is an important topic since it is the foundation of our school, with many different opinions. Though this is true, many people have chosen to not pick a side, simply out of respect for the Native Americans; and this may be especially the case with those that do not descend from Native Americans.

“I don’t believe that a non-native (like myself) has the right to have an opinion.” Kassidy Henry (’23) said.

This is an interesting outlook upon the topic in which many people have abided by. As Henry said, the “right” to have an opinion should rest with the people who are directly affected, according to those with this opinion.

WHERE WE ALL COME TOGETHER

Although this topic can get a little heated at times, students, parents, and teachers alike know that our school has brought many people closer, and that regardless, we all come together as a school in the end. The purpose of this article is not to divide, but rather to connect on this issue and learn about the different sides and opinions. This article is not to put people in categories, but rather to ensure the happiness and understanding of every person.

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