View Full Version : The Chief Sunflower Curse

10-19-2006, 02:15 PM
NOTE: This article is intended to be a light-hearted reflection on the Chief's past. It is not to be taken seriously, and I only wrote this to honor upcoming Halloween. Please enjoy.

There is no denying that the northwestern part of Missouri and it’s surrounding areas, is considered by many to be one of the most haunted areas of the country. Eastern Jackson County has long been thought of as one of the strangest parts of the country in regards to ghosts, legends and strange happenings. This part of the country, which was originally a gateway to the west, was regarded by the Native Americans as a “haunted” spot, plagued with ghost lights, phantoms and strange creatures. Eastern Jackson County, just east from Kansas City, has more than its share of ghosts and nearby is Olathe, Kansas, home to the most haunted city in the entire state.

But how did this region gain such a reputation? Why are many people not surprised to find stories of the Chief Sunflower Curse, phantom inhabitants and mysterious creatures roaming this part of the country? There have been a number of theories to explain the large number of haunted happenings here, including that this area may be some sort of “window” between dimensions. This would, according to the theories, allow paranormal phenomenon to come and go and vanish at will, just as the Chief Sunflower Curse did after 13 months from the time it was erected in the Truman Sports Complex.

Those researchers with a historical bent have offered their own solutions though. They have traced the supernatural roots of the region back to a bloody event from the days of the Civil War and a great curse.
As the American frontiersmen began to move west in the 1800’s, several nations of Indians formed a powerful confederacy to keep the white men from infringing on their territory. The Shawnee were the most powerful of the tribes and were led by a feared and respected chieftain called “Keigh-sugh-gua”, which translates to mean “Sunflower”. In 1864, when the white settlers were moving down into the Missouri valleys, the Indian Confederacy prepared to protect their lands by any means necessary. The nations began to mass in a rough line across the point from the Missouri River to the Kansas River, numbering about 1200 warriors. They began to make preparations to attack the white settlers near an area called Independence on the Missouri side.

As word reached the colonial military leaders of the impending attack, troops were sent in and faced off against the Indians. While the numbers of fighters were fairly even on both sides, the Native Americans were no match for the guns of the white soldiers. The battle ended with about 140 colonials killed and more than twice that number of Indians. The tribes retreated westward into the wilds of what is now the Ozarks and in order to keep them from returning, a fort was constructed at the junction of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers.

As time passed, the Shawnee leader, Sunflower, made peace with the white men. He would carry word to his new friends in 1864 when the Southern troops began coaxing the Indians into attacking the North. Soon, the tribes again began massing along the Missouri River, intent on attacking the fort. Sunflower and Red Hawk, an Iowan chief, had no taste for war with the North and they went to the fort on November 7 to try and negotiate a peace before fighting began. Sunflower told Captain Smellway, who commanded the garrison, that he was opposed to war with the North but that only he and his tribe were holding back from joining on the side of the South. He was afraid that he would be forced to go along by the rest of the Southern troops.

When he admitted to Smellway that he would allow his men to fight if the other tribes did, Sunflower, Red Hawk and another Indian were taken as hostages. The North believed that they could use him to keep the other tribes from attacking. They forced the Native Americans into a standoff for none of them wanted to risk the life of their leader.

Sunflower’s name not only stuck fear into hearts of the white settlers up and down the frontier, but it also garnered respect from the other Indian tribes. He was gifted with great oratory skills, fighting ability and military genius. In fact, it was said that when his fighting tactics were adopted by the Americans, they were able to defeat the North in a number of battles where they had been both outnumbered and outgunned.
Although taken as hostage, Sunflower and the other Indians were treated well and were given comfortable quarters, leading many to wonder if the chief’s hostage status may have been voluntary in the beginning. Sunflower even assisted his captors in plotting maps of the Missouri River Valley during his imprisonment. On November 9, Sunflower’s son, White Rain, came to the fort to see his father and he was also detained.

The following day, gunfire was heard from outside the walls of the fort, coming from the direction of the Kansas River. When men went out to investigate, they discovered that two soldiers who had left the stockade to hunt deer had been ambushed by Indians. One of them had escaped but the other man had been killed.

When his bloody corpse was returned to the fort, the soldiers in the garrison were enraged. Acting against orders, they broke into the quarters where Sunflower and the other Indians were being held. Even though the men had nothing to do with the crime, they decided to execute the prisoners as revenge. As the soldiers burst through the doorway, Sunflower rose to meet them. It was said that he stood facing the soldiers with such bravery that they paused momentarily in their attack. It wasn’t enough though and the soldiers opened fire with their rifles. Red Hawk tried to escape up through the chimney but was pulled back down and slaughtered. White Rain was shot where he had been sitting on a stool and the other unknown Indian was strangled to death. As for Sunflower, he was shot eight times before he fell to the floor.
And as he lay their dying in the smoke-filled room, he was said to have pronounced his now legendary curse. The stories say that he looked upon his assassins and spoke to them: “I was the border man’s friend. Many times I have saved him and his people from harm. I never warred with you, but only to protect our wigwams and lands. I refused to join your paleface enemies with the red coats. I came to the fort as your friend and you murdered me. You have murdered by my side, my young son.... For this, may the curse of the Great Spirit rest upon this land. May it be blighted by nature! May it even be blighted in its hopes! May the strength of its peoples be paralyzed by the stain of our blood!”
He spoke these words, so says the legend, and then he died. The bodies of the other Indians were then taken and dumped into the Kansas River but Sunflower’s corpse was buried at the spot where the Truman Sports complex now resides, overlooking the city of Kansas City to the west. Here he remained in many years, but he would not rest in peace.

For many years after, the Indian’s grave lay undisturbed but in 1904 his bones were disturbed. In the late 1972, work on the Truman Sports Complex unfolded and the chief’s remains (which now consisted of three teeth and about 15 pieces of bone) were placed in an aluminum box and covered in what is now the foundation of Arrowhead Stadium.

During work on the stadiums, a bolt of lightning struck construction equipment, damaging and rendering some inoperable. On another day, during construction of what is now Royals stadium, a construction worker fell to his death while work on one of the stadiums escalators.
Could the freak lightning strikes and mysterious death have been acts of vengeance tied to Sunflower’s fabled curse? Many believed so and for years, residents of the Kansas City area spoke of strange happenings, river tragedies and fires as part of the curse. Of course, many laughed and said that the curse was nothing more than overactive imaginations, ignoring the death toll and eerie coincidences that seemed to plague the region for over a hundred years after the death of Chief Sunflower.

Many tragedies and disasters were blamed on the curse:

1963: The Texans move to Kansas City and change the team’s name to the Chiefs fully unaware of Chief Sunflower’s curse.

1963: Tragedy struck the team when rookie RB Stone Johnson suffered a fractured vertebra in his neck in a preseason game against Oakland. He died 10 days later.

1965: The team suffered a devastating blow when RB Mack Lee Hill suffered torn ligaments in his knee in a game against Buffalo. He later died during routine surgery.

1965: The Chiefs make Gale Sayers their first pick, but he instead signs with the Bears and becomes a Hall-of-Fame RB.

1967: The Chiefs meet the Packers in the first Super Bowl only to mysteriously blow it by letting a hung-over aging veteran who was as slow as city bus take over the game with a couple of TD catches.

1968: A debate raged in Kansas City whether the club’s new stadium should be built downtown or at a “remote” location. The site of Chief Sunflower’s remains was chosen in Eastern Jackson County.

1970: In a game against the Raiders, the Chiefs were ahead 17-14 and Dawson appeared to have the first down which would have sealed the win, but he was speared by Ben Davidson and instigated a brawl and cost the Chiefs the game.

1971: In the AFC Divisional playoff game against the Dolphins on Christmas Day, the Chiefs and Dolphins play for double overtime in what would be the last game ever in Municipal Stadium. It will be the last playoff appearance for the Chiefs for 15 years.

1972: The Chiefs lose the home opener to the Miami Dolphins in their new stadium, Arrowhead Stadium. Little does anyone know they are playing on the gravesite of Chief Sunflower.

1973: Lenny Dawson starts his final game as a pro football player in a loss to Buffalo. He will retire in 1976 along with Buch Buchanan.

1974: Hank Stram’s final game as a Chiefs head coach resulted in a loss to Minnesota.

1977: The Chiefs having endured their worst season as a franchise fire Coach Paul Wiggin on Halloween.

1980: First round pick QB Steve Fuller suffers a knee injury and is replaced by Bill Kenney. However, his name is misspelled on the back of his jersey. It is spelled, “Kenny”

1983: Considered by many to be the unluckiest of years for the Chiefs franchise. On January 29, 1983, RB Joe Delaney drowned while trying to save three boys. The Chiefs then make the crucial mistake of drafting Todd Blackledge in the first round when they could’ve picked guys like Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. To make matters worse, John Elway decides he’ll never play for Baltimore and demands a trade to the Broncos where he will haunt Chiefs fans for many years to come.

1987: The Chiefs make the one of the dumbest coaching mistakes ever by firing John Mackovich and hiring Frank Ganz, who was nothing more than Special Teams coach with aspirations of becoming an Offensive Coordinator.

1988: December 19, 1988, the Chiefs hire Carl Peterson.

1991: The Chiefs blow a heartbreaking loss in the AFC wild-card game to the Miami Dolphins when Nick Lowry misses a 52 yard FG.

1996: The Chiefs lose in what is considered to be the worst loss in franchise history when they lose the “unspeakable” playoff game against the Colts when some kicker nobody will ever speak of again, missed three field goals on a frozen day in Arrowhead. Chief Sunflower’s curse was never more evident than this day.

1998: In a playoff games against the Donkeys, the Chiefs fail to convert on a few opportunistic moments and lose the game in the final minute.

2000: On January 23, 2000 our beloved Derrick Thomas was involved in a roll-over accident. A few weeks later, he suffers a mysterious cardiac arrest and dies. The city and the team are devastated by his loss. Many still mourn his tragic loss today. Chief Sunflower’s curse is growing more and more evident.

2004: The Chiefs lose in an AFC Divisional game to the Colts in a game where neither team ever punted.

So how real is the “Chief Sunflower Curse”? Is it simply a string of unfortunate and tragic coincidences, culled from a century of sadness in the region? Consider this: The last time the Chiefs made it to a Super Bowl was when the team was playing in the old Municipal Stadium.
Can it be used to explain why the area seems to attract strange happenings and eerie tales? Or is the area somehow “blighted”, separate from any curse, and attractive to the strangeness that seems to lurk in the shadowy corners of America?

The reader is asked to judge the validity of such curses for himself. Fact or coincidence? Who can say... but I know that I hope, for the sake of the people of Eastern Jackson County, that Chief Sunflower will finally rest in peace!

(C) Copyright 2006 by CosmicPal. All Rights Reserved.

10-19-2006, 02:26 PM
I knew that fuggin place was cursed! :cuss:

Will we ever win a championship in there?

10-19-2006, 02:27 PM
So we really are doomed, ****!

10-19-2006, 02:53 PM
I knew that fuggin place was cursed! :cuss:

Will we ever win a championship in there?


Sorry, just doing my best Stephen King impression.

Happy Halloween

10-31-2006, 09:59 AM

for Halloween

10-31-2006, 10:33 AM
1988: December 19, 1988, the Chiefs hire Carl Peterson. Oh God the horror!

10-31-2006, 10:58 AM
That was a fun read. Now, is there any historical truth to the story? I had never heard of this at all...

10-31-2006, 12:01 PM
That was a fun read. Now, is there any historical truth to the story? I had never heard of this at all...

Thank you...

Nope...it was all made up. Except of course, the historical time-line of the Chiefs actual events.

10-31-2006, 12:06 PM
Nope...it was all made up. Except of course, the historical time-line of the Chiefs actual events.

Which in itself is a frightening Nightmare.

CP - you could also include if you wish that on February 3rd, 1970, I was born, 23 days after SB IV.

I also believe I am a curse on the Chiefs.

10-31-2006, 02:25 PM
Which in itself is a frightening Nightmare.

CP - you could also include if you wish that on February 3rd, 1970, I was born, 23 days after SB IV.

I also believe I am a curse on the Chiefs.

Yeah, I was born in December of that year. It bugs me that to date I have never seen the Chiefs in a Superbowl...missed it by less than a year.