Lily Gladstone calls out the NFL for misrepresentation of Native Americans

“Look at one of the teams playing,” she said, referencing the Super Bowl
February 12, 2024 12:19 p.m. EST
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Oscar-nominated actress Lily Gladstone has made history as the first Indigenous woman to be nominated in the Best Actress category, but according to her, representation of the community still has a long way to go.


Speaking at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuosos Awards on Saturday, she referenced the Super Bowl, which saw the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers, and asked the audience to consider how the NFL misrepresents her community by noting,  “look at one of the teams that's playing."



People reports her full comments included her discussing the history of Indigenous, First Nation and Native American representation in film, noting that "some of the first filmmakers [and] the first film footage was shot by native people documenting our way of life."


"But that's a lot of history and a lot of years of exclusion or misrepresentation, and I mean Super Bowl's tomorrow," she said, per the outlet. "We haven't come that far if we look at one of the teams that's playing."


Gladstone has been nominated for her role in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, for which she already won a Golden Globe, and gave her acceptance speech partly in the Blackfoot language. She is of Siksikaitsitapi and Niimiipuu heritage.


On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl, however their win is partly overshadowed by the controversy surrounding their name. One tradition at KCC games is for fans to perform what is known as “the tomahawk chop,” which as News Nation Now reports, has been called “the most racist gesture demonstrated on the American sporting landscape.” There have been long-standing calls for the team to change its name and ban the gesture. The team already banned fans from wearing First Nations headdresses.


This isn’t the first time the NFL has come under fire for its history of appropriating Indigenous culture and its usage of racist tropes. In 2020, the Washington team came under fire for its name which is a racial slur, finally changing it officially in 2022 to the Washington Commanders.


The NFL isn’t the only league that has a history of misrepresenting and appropriating Indigenous culture. In 2021, the Cleveland baseball team finally changed its racist name to the Cleveland Guardians after years of protest, per ESPN. CNN also reported in 2021 that the baseball team Atlanta Braves have long been using the “tomahawk chop” as well and that there are growing demands for the team to eliminate its usage. 


Here’s hoping Super Bowl champions KCC take note and use their platform to make a step in the right direction.


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