Trail of Tears Banner Lands School in Hot Water

    November 20, 2013
    Mike Tuttle
    Comments are off for this post.

When rival schools face off in sporting events, things can get testy. It is not uncommon at all for rival pep groups, cheerleading squads, boosters, etc. to paint up banners taunting the other team. Often the marks for derision are the team’s mascot or other public face. But one school team may have taken things a bit too far.

Alabama News reports that last week McAdory High in McCalla, Alabama and Pinson Valley High in Pinson, Alabama squared off against each other in the second round of the Alabama Class 5A playoffs. McAdory ended up winning the game. But the cheerleading squad for McAdory caused a stir that ended up hitting the interwebs and bringing the ire of many down on the school.

The Pinson Valley mascot is the Indians. So the McAdory cheerleaders thought it would be somehow appropriate to make a “Trail of Tears” reference toward their rivals. They produced a run-through banner — a paper barrier that their team would crash through when introduced before kickoff — that read:

Hey Indians, Get Ready To Leave In A Trail of Tears Round 2

The original “Trail of Tears” refers to an embarrassing chapter in America’s history when members of several Native American Indian nations were forcibly removed from their tribal homelands and relocated to reservation areas out west. The relocation was against previous agreements with the United States government, and resulted in the deaths of thousands of men, women, and children due to wintry conditions of the move.

After public outcry about the banner, the school principal Tod Humphries posted a public apology, accepting responsibility for the insensitive material.

On 11/15/2013 at a football game at McAdory High School, a sign was displayed that made reference to the “Trail of Tears” in which Native Americans were subjected to horrific atrocities. 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. 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.

The principal went even further, ordering that the topic of the Trail of Tears be re-taught to students.

In response to the “bust thru” sign used by McAdory High School during the Round 2 State Play-Off game versus Pinson Valley High School, all social studies and history teachers will re-teach and/or review units concerning Native American displacement following the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

image via: Tumblr

  • Two Thoughts

    1) The trail of tears was simply horrible. It was the epitome of a death march. What the US did to those people is the same as Hitler did to the Jews. It is that serious.

    2) However, our kids today are so stupid that they might have actually thought “trail of tears” had something to do with just crying. I am very serious about that. Our kids in high school are doing what the Japanese do in 6th grade. That is how bad education is in this country. They literally may not even know what the “trail of tears” actually was.

    Doubt what I say? Go out to YouTube and search for two videos using these keywords:

    1) kid’s can’t answer basic questions
    2) 80% of recent NYC High School Graduate can’t read

    It will take you just a few minutes to watch these and it illustrates my point perfectly.

    • Helen

      I wouldn’t say that our kids today are “stupid”. Our country wants to erase every wrong that the “white man” of yesterday did to Native Americans, African Americans, and even the Japanese. Our kids today are not taught properly, so they do not know of the atrocities of yesterday and the effect it had on other races. America is so focused on being “politically correct” that they don’t want to go in depth about hurtful subjects. There is a deep fear of history and some think that if we don’t say anything about it, it will go away, but that is far from true. If we knew better, we’d do better by each other.

      • clifton wilks


        • Jim

          Actually I was amazed that the cheer leaders knew about the Trail of Tears in our history. What they did was cruel, but I am amazed that they would know any history at all, after all they’re cheerleaders.

        • Charlie

          you is appalled? It’s a good thing you ain’t stupid.

    • gary

      native americans lived on these continents for thousands of years and were essentially very competent in getting around, without horses, etc, and living off the land, the journey they took was not much different then the regular migrating movement of peoples in south America, central America, and north America, referring this time in history to the jewish holocaust, is moronic….

      • NYGramma

        Not much different? Really. The fact that they were adept at travel doesn’t change the fact that they were forcibly removed from their homelands, without a choice in whether to continue or go home, or where they might temporarily pitch camp. What’s moronic is to not see the parallels in this “cleansing” and the Jewish holocaust. The only difference is the Native Americans were herded away from the homelands like cattle and the Jews were herded into gas chambers.

    • http://None TracysMum

      It is not the kids’ fault – it is the fault of the mis-education they are now receiving at the hands of teachers who were likewise “educated”.

    • http://yahoo.com Money PowellJr

      Those of s who are part black and part native American think history in most schools is lacking a lot. I did not know of my indian roots until I was in the army. My grandfather on my dads side was born a salve and married into the indian culture. On my mothers side her grandfather was indians. But all of us born or coming to this great country should be one nation. It is hard for some people to understand this, so in closing I will say GOD BLESS AMERICA! Retired Army

  • de

    This is stupid it is not the statement it is the intent!!! these kids were not referring to Oklahoma Trail of Tears!!! So being an OKIE no ill intent is taken…. So no one should ever use a word or phrase again just ridiculous…

    • GalapagosPete

      “So no one should ever use a word or phrase again just ridiculous…”

      I think we all agree that the students made the banner out of ignorance and/or thoughtlessness rather than real malice, and that’s exactly the point.

      “Trail of Tears” is a phrase that has a specific meaning in history, like “Holocaust”; you don’t get to trivialize it. And if it’s done through ignorance, the answer is not to say “Oh well,” the answer is education. So they’re doing exactly the right thing here.

    • http://None TracysMum

      I guess you can now read minds? You have no credible evidence to know what they were referring to ……………………

  • Pat

    These kids need to see the movie “Dances with Wolves”. It is just a glimpse into the horrors inflicted on the Indians. I hope our country is not so lacking in education that the kids don’t even know about it.

  • DR

    Not only the Trail of Tears but the Long Walk of the Navajo in 1860’s. Thousands of children, women, elderly, and men were forcibly marched to sad and inhabitable lands in New Mexico and many starved to death, died of exposure, disease, and bullets. So true that true Native American history is not taught at public schools-all one sided propaganda or worse stereotypical conveyance.

    • dc

      From Wikipedia
      The Trail of Tears is a name given to the ethnic cleansing and forced relocation of Native American nations from southeastern parts of the United States following the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The removal included many members of the Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations, among others in the United States, from their homelands to Indian Territory in eastern sections of the present-day state of Oklahoma. The phrase originated from a description of the removal of the Choctaw Nation in 1831

  • clifton wilks


    • Charles England

      Clifton Wilks: The phrase used on the “run-through bannner” of “Round 2″, was just a reference that it was the “Round 2″ of the football play-offs.

      • walker ranger

        Nah, doesn’t really makes sense in that term. If they had met each other before maybe, but a sign like that referring to the second round of a playoff system would be worded differently.

        No matter what, it’s the sign that offended. There was a “Trail of Tears” and they are making fun of it. They must have at least Googled the term, since they were making of fun of Indians. So they knew exactly what it meant. The round 2 is just salt on the wound.

        In the big picture, it just a internet blurb, but at least with the the online community being outraged about it, people are now learning about some of the history concerning Native Americans, so what started out as a dumb, cruel taunt will educate many people who never knew what some Native Indians had to endure.

  • R Couch

    Before I moved to Oklahoma some 40 years ago I did not know what the “Trail of Tears” was. It had never been taught where I had gone to school and that is probably the same for many, but for students to be from the southeastern part of the United States and not know I call B.S. This is where the 5 Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole, Creek and Chickasaw) originated from.

  • William

    These two high schools are very close to a major route that was used to remove Native Americans from Alabama. They should have known about the “Indian Removal Act” from there 4th grade and/or high school Alabama history course. Stupid acts like this seldom sunrise anymore, but they do irritate me. To quote from my college Alabama history course. The book used was the high school text since the course is required as part of the teacher certification process. “The truth of the matter was that the Cherokees were no longer savages. No other tribe had so fully accepted the white man’s way of life. In their removal the Cherokees were treated without mercy.” For the record I am a descendant of a full-blood Cherokee from NW Georgia.

    • http://None TracysMum

      The operative word here is “Alabama”. What would these “southerners” even know about such things? They don’t even admit that “slavery” in their state existed ………..

    • yasmeen brown

      The fact that the complete history of the United States is not taught is a problem. The continual unfair unethical treatment of Native Americans,the brutal enslavement of African American and the prejudice and bias of other groups in the US is not taught accurately nor thoroughly. We do a great disservice to our nation by not being honest about the errors we has made in the past. We cannot condemn other countries for “Human Rights violations” until we own up to our own.

  • Carla

    There is no excuse for the schools actions. The Native American Indians are truly the only people in America that were and still are discriminated against. Think about it other nationalities of all kinds!

    • Zeke

      You’re saying that Black people are not still discriminated against??? Are we on the same planet???

  • Bill

    Someone suggested students watch ‘Dances With Wolves’ to learn from regarding the Trail of Tears. Really?? While a good film, Hollywood has always been biased. Wikipedia would be much better (more honest) and also quicker.
    Also, when studying a historical event, people should become familiar with events happening worldwide to better understand the mindset of people.
    This was a terrible thing that happened ~180 years ago. On a more positive note, nowadays, Native Americans are now casino owners.

  • http://ynez155 delphine

    Yahoo should get their facts straight about historical events! The Cherokee tribe was the tribe moved from the southeast to Oklahoma in the dead of Winter. Many died along the way! Thus the event is called “the trail of tears!”

  • Sagehopper

    My great great great grandmother was a full blooded Cherokee. She was moved out to what is now Delaware Co., OK…then Cherokee Nation…What teh US govt has done to certain ethnic groups in the name of “progress” has literall killed hundreds of thousands of Native Americans. Treaties are ALL broken if gold or oil, or timber, or whatever was found on the land after the Indians were moved there..NOTHING is below our government if they set an agenda..Just ask the Japanese during WW2. Loyal Americans imprisoned because of their heritage and ancestry..The kids in shcool need to hear the truth about our history. There is enough to learn without changing it, or cleaning it up for political correctness.

    • http://None TracysMum

      AMEN to all that you have said! You speak the truth!

  • Joy

    Sadly, there is truth published in all these comments. I am a descendant of the Iroquois (foot runner that aided George Washington), State of Pennsylvania (for my roots). I cannot drive through the Skyline Parkway, Appalachian Mountains without tearing up, thinking about the horrors that were endured for the white mans’ greed. Unthinkable stealth is documented, along with murder, and none of this was taught to me in my public schooling here in the United States. I’ve gleaned it slowly, through the years, each time with hurt and embarrassment and pain for my people, all, red, yellow, black and white, all precious in His sight.

  • chickasaw101

    Being “Native American” I guess I am supposed to be angry, beside my self, or just plain flabbergasted. However, as idiotic as the banner was, it’s just another one of those incidents that really just shows the state of America. Our school kids are really not taught real truths of American history, neither are they taught at home to be respectful of other people, regardless of race or national origin. However, as insensitive as this was…no one died here. Let’s move onto the real answer which is to teach the truth in school and teach our kids from the home to be more mannerly.

  • http://pantegotraveler@att.net Larry Pool

    I have Cherokee blood in my body. It is something I am proud of. The way the U.S. treated the Indians is some thing that the U.S. should be ashamed of. After they got them to Oklahoma and forgot them, the U.S. then tried to take the new tribal land away. The Government has never tried to make things right with any of the Indian Nations they had a treaty with. Another of the shameful past things the U.S. wants to forget about. Our Government is full of promises that never lived up to or followed up on. Some of the best friends I have ever had are Indian. A proud and honorable people.

  • jane

    i think the comment here should be

    “…too soon?”

  • sunny

    everything said is true. and now the native americans have indian casinos, and i say rock on native americans!!!! and one day i pray a native american becomes president male or female, not that right there can truly bring us back to basics if anything the americans greed

    • sunny

      sorry bout the typo i meant that “now” that right there

  • Zeke

    Of course, if our horrific government had never conducted themselves as they have (and still do at times) there would be no issue, would there?

  • Al

    Whatever, get on with life and things that are relevant. Yawn!

  • sunshine

    I believe the cheerleaders new what they were doing. I don’t think they meant to hurt anyone. What they did was wrong. YES! They were doing it in the spirit of football (not a great choice what they did). I believe Blacks, Native Americans, Jews, just some that have been mentioned in previous post, have talked about the hardships in the past. They did have hardships, they did suffer perscutions, some we should never forget, but remember our ancestors past, but not live in it. I did not have anything to do with moving the Indians, I did not have anything to do with making the blacks suffer. I did not have anything to do with Killing the Jews. I don’t agree with what happened in the past. But it did happen. We just need to make sure we don’t keep on teaching our kids to hate because of Color, or nationality, but to accept each other as a human being. We don’t need to live in the past but go forward and try to have a better country and learn to live together. A great President once said. “Its not what your Country can do for you, but What you can do for your Country”. So we are going to keep tearing each other down or we going to build each other up. I agree with the thoughts on the School System, they don’t teach like they use to. Our kids today can hardly know how to add, mulitply or subtract without the help of a calculator, some can not even write, because they use computers in school and don’t teach writing. They don’t even teach values like they did when we were in school. Americans need to turn back to true values of life. GOD AND FAMILY!!!

  • Iron Head

    This is what you get from naming school teams after Native Americans. If their opponents name was an animal, this flap would never have occurred. If the students had any adult leadership, they would have caught the banner before it was publicly aired. Hitler admitted that he had fashioned his ethnic roundup after Andrew Jackson’s “Trail of Tears” treatment of the Cherokees. And yet we still have Andy’s picture on our $20 bill. Should Germany put Hitlers face on their Euro?

  • Gail Carpenter


    500 years of ‘PROGRESS’??? pukinggggggg

  • Gail Carpenter



  • http://aol jim

    Being the grandson of a woman who was Iroquois I whom I loved w/ all of my heart. She was 6’5″ & both of her sisters were 6’7″. They are tall people & she raised me to be tough, I was. Later in life I would go around this country to meet the Chippawa, Cherokee, Blackfoot, Crow, Navajo & Hopi indian reservations. I would be a world champ in full contact martial arts, 5 titles in all, w/ an MBA & 2 B.A.’s degrees to boot. I enjoyed meeting these wonderful people & learned a lot about their history & their traditions. My grandmother passed 41 years ago @ the age of 100, my grandfather passed the year before @ 102, they were married for 74 years. He was from Italy & was 5’1″ at best & both were fireplugs, stubborn but gentle w/ each other.