How the Kansas City Chiefs got their name and the Boy Scout Tribe of Mic-O-Say

A Kansas City Chiefs fan wears a headdress before the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The Mic-O-Say was founded in 1925, under the leadership of Harold Roe Bartle, a two-term Kansas City mayor known in his social circles as ‘Chief’

In our series of articles on the Boy Scouts, three factions or offshoot groups came about as a result of the initial organization based on the young men’s group of Woodcraft Indians by Ernest Thompson Seton.

These three organizations are the Order of the Arrow, which is more of a secret-based honor society of the Boy Scouts of America, the tribe of Mic-O-Say, which is a “tribe” of sorts with specific regalia, adornments and paint styles that has specific traveling dance groups, and the Koshare, which is a Boy Scout Troop with a museum and dancers based in La Junta, Colorado.

The creation of the Mic-O-Say by Harold Roe Bartle, a non-Native man with a 25-cigar-a-day habit and a booming voice, was the man behind the catalyst leading to the eventual creation of the name for the Kansas City football team, the Chiefs.

See related: The Tribe of Mic-O-Say dance teams regularly perform’ in ‘Native-style regalia

As previously reported in Indian Country Today, the Mic-O-Say was founded in 1925, under the leadership of Harold Roe Bartle, a former Scouting leader for the Cheyenne Council of Boy Scouts in Casper, Wyoming.

Screen Capture - H. Roe Bartle
H. Roe Bartle and a group of scouts. Video screen capture.

Bartle claimed he was inducted into a local tribe of the Arapaho people and according to another “traditional Mic-O-Say legend,” Bartle was also given the name Lone Bear by an Arapaho chief. Thus he went by the name Chief Lone Bear in his Mic-O-Say organization.

H Roe Bartle as 'Chief' Lone Bear  - circa 1925
H. Roe Bartle was known as 'Chief'

As chief, Bartle conducted ceremonies on new members by placing an eagle claw around their necks and giving them a ‘Native name.’

The Mic-O-Say became wildly popular and increased camp attendance in scout summer camps by young men who wished to incorporate Native American traditions into their scout activities. In 1928, Bartle was named the Scout Executive of the Kansas City area council, and Mic-O-Say had become so successful, other Mic-O-Say camps were formed.

Bartle’s Mic-O-Say camp in Osceola, Missouri, now called the ‘Bartle Scout Reservation” still exists today

Mic-O-Say and Kansas City Chiefs connection

AP_622415526287
Kansas City Chiefs fans wear indian headdresses during the NFL week 9 football game against the San Diego Chargers on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 in San Diego. The Chargers won the game 31-13. (AP Photo/Paul Spinelli)

Bartle, who was known in many of his circles as ‘chief’ served as mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, for two terms and in 1962 he helped to persuade Lamar Hunt, the owner of Dallas Texans football team to bring his team to Kansas City.

As written about in a Kansas City Star article from 2016 by Rick Montgomery:

“Bartle learned on a business trip that Hunt was thinking about relocating his American Football League franchise. Not yet ready to sever his football ties in Texas, Hunt originally declined the mayor’s invitation to check out Kansas City. So Bartle promised total secrecy, which included mailing papers to Hunt from a location outside City Hall.

When Hunt visited, Bartle introduced him as ‘Mr. Lamar’ and referred to Steadman as “Jack X.”

Team owner of the Dallas Texans Lamar Hunt who was also the founder of the American Football League met with Bartle under a veil of secrecy that he truly enjoyed according to the article, and after what then Kansas City Star sports columnist Joe McGuff cited as “a remarkable selling job on Lamar Hunt,” the team owner agreed to have his team named the Kansas City Chiefs after Bartle.

In 1963, after Hunt had moved his Dallas Texans to Kansas City, the name ‘Chiefs’ “popped up time and again in a name-the-team contest.” Lamar Hunt’s general manager had stated years later, “I finally told Lamar, ‘There’s just no other name we can select.’”

The Kansas City Chiefs were not named for a Native American, but for Bartle’s namesake and his involvement with Mic-O-Say.

Stories in the Boy Scout article series by Indian Country Today associate editor Vincent Schilling

Boy Scouts ‘have been one of the worst culprits’ of cultural appropriation

Order of the Arrow is a ‘secret’ scout society ‘in the spirit of the Lenni Lenape’ - a Lenape leader disagrees

The Tribe of Mic-O-Say dance teams regularly perform’ in ‘Native-style regalia’

How the Kansas City Chiefs got their name and the Boy Scout Tribe of Mic-O-Say

The Koshare museum raises money and its ‘Native’ dancers perform even after being told they shouldn’t

Native voice helped create the Boy Scouts, Charles Eastman ‘Ohiyesa’

Solutions for moving beyond appropriation in the 21st-century scouts. Star Wars?

ICT Phone Logo

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling and Instagram - @VinceSchilling

Email - vschilling@indiancountrytoday.com

Comments