Published On: Fri, Nov 22nd, 2013

Alabama High School references Trail of Tears in football run-through

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF

 

A run-through sign at a football game in Alabama has many in Indian Country upset.  The McAdory High Yellow Jackets played the Pinson Valley Indians on Friday, Nov. 15, and McAdory’s cheerleaders held up a run-through sign prior to the game which read, “Hey Indians, get ready to leave in a Trail of Tears, Round 2.”

The McAdory High Yellow Jackets played the Pinson Valley Indians on Friday, Nov. 15, and McAdory’s cheerleaders held up a run-through sign prior to the game which read, “Hey Indians, get ready to leave in a Trail of Tears, Round 2.” (Photo credit: Instagram/madisoncain7)

The McAdory High Yellow Jackets played the Pinson Valley Indians on Friday, Nov. 15, and McAdory’s cheerleaders held up a run-through sign prior to the game which read, “Hey Indians, get ready to leave in a Trail of Tears, Round 2.” (Photo credit: Instagram/madisoncain7)

The sign sparked an outrage and school officials acted quickly.

“A sign was displayed that made reference to the ‘Trail of Tears’ in which Native Americans were subjected to horrific atrocities,” McAdory High School principal Tod Humphries said in a statement on Monday, Nov. 18.  “This was not condoned by the school administration, the Jefferson County Board of Education or the community.  The person who would normally be responsible for approving such signs is out on maternity leave, and I take full responsibility that arrangements were not made to have the signs pre-approved before the ballgame.”

Principal Humphries related that “all social studies and history teachers will re-teach and/or review units concerning Native American displacement following the Indian Removal Act…”

He also issued an apology to the Native American community, “Please accept our sincere apologies to the Native American people and to anyone who was offended by the reference to an event that is a stain on our nation’s past forever.”

Stephen Nowlin, Jefferson County (Ala.) Board of Education superintendent, said in a statement, “The cheerleading squad will be disciplined…we can use this unfortunate event as an important teachable moment.  We apologize to all Native Americans and to any person who was offended.  Our curriculum department will ensure that all students in the future will have a lesson on the Trail of Tears.”

Principal Chief Michell Hicks commented on the issue, “The lack of respect and consideration demonstrated by Alabama’s McAdory High School Football team is unfortunate and distressing.  This situation sheds light on the lack of education regarding the atrocities that took place on the Trail of Tears.  The High School administration has the responsibility and opportunity to share Native American and United States joint history regarding the Trail of Tears.”

He went on to say, “Hopefully, those involved will think twice and will avoid making hurtful and naïve statements such as this in the future.  Additionally, I think these students and those involved with this issue should express their apologies to those offended by their actions.”

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said it was ironic that this occurred during the 175th Anniversary of the Trail of Tears.  “The Trail of Tears was arguably the most horrific period in the Cherokee Nation’s history and among the worst atrocities ever sanctioned by the United States government,” he said in a statement.  “The legacy of that terrible era had a profound effect on generations of tribal citizens, and still lingers today.  This unfortunate display shows how much improvement is still needed in the understanding of Native peoples, our triumphs and our challenges, both historical and modern.” 

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