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