NFL: Young Chiefs fan leads effort to end 'Tomahawk Chop'

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(Reuters) - A nine-year-old Kansas City Chiefs fan has started a petition urging the NFL team to do away with their "Tomahawk Chop" chant, saying the gesture is insulting to Native Americans.

Critics have for years held that the tradition, which involves fans waving their arms through the air in a chopping motion while singing a "war chant," draws on offensive and racist stereotypes.

"I am a big fan of the Chiefs and I WISH we would get rid of the tomahawk chop," fourth grader Finn Swanson wrote in a letter to the franchise in a change.org petition.

"It is offensive to Native Americans and should be banned at Chiefs games.

"Now, go win another Super Bowl!"

Swanson's parents are both ministers in Kansas City. His father has spent time volunteering on a reservation in South Dakota, which inspired Finn to put pen to paper, and his mother is active in areas of social justice.

Pressure on the Chiefs and other franchises that bear the name and iconography of Native Americans increased last year amid a nationwide reckoning over systemic racism.

Public pressure led to the Washington Football Team to drop their team name while other sports teams have jettisoned Native American-related mascots.

The Chiefs have taken steps to ban Native American imagery like headdresses and war paint but have not fully eradicated the chant.

Swanson's petition had garnered 448 signatures as of Tuesday and he said he hoped to get the attention of the franchise before Sunday's Super Bowl, where the defending champion Chiefs will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

About 25,000 fans are expected to be in attendance at Sunday's championship game in Tampa.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Christian Radnedge)