Killers Of The Flower Moon star Lily Gladstone has appeared to call out the Kansas City Chiefs for “misrepresentation” of Native American people.
The team won last night’s (February 11) Super Bowl LVIII against the San Francisco 49ers, and ahead of the game, Gladstone – who is of Siksikaitsitapi and Nimíipuu heritage – referenced the controversy around the team and the Native American community.
Speaking while being honoured at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Virtuosos Awards, the actress reflected on the “long overdue” milestone of becoming the first Native American performer to be nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award.
The star noted that “some of the first filmmakers [and] the first film footage was shot by native people documenting our way of life”.
She added: “But that’s a lot of history and a lot of years of exclusion or misrepresentation, and I mean Super Bowl’s tomorrow. We haven’t come that far if we look at one of the teams that’s playing.”
Likely referring to the Kansas City Chiefs, the team has long faced a backlash over its name and arrowhead symbol, as well as the “tomahawk chop” gesture and chant, which Native American leaders have said perpetuate racist stereotypes and devalue Native American traditions.
When the Chiefs won the Super Bowl in 2023, protestors gathered outside the stadium demanding a stop to the “tomahawk chop” and for the team to change its name.
Previously, the Chiefs banned fans in 2020 from wearing headdresses and certain face paint, though some fans have still done so anyway.
It comes after the now-titled Washington Commanders NFL team previously changed their name after their last moniker was long deemed a racist slur against Native Americans.
Meanwhile, last month Gladstone made history as the first Native American actress to win the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for Killers Of The Flower Moon, and delivered part of her speech in Blackfoot language.
Last year Gladstone criticised TV series Yellowstone as a “delusional” and “deplorable” portrait of the American West.