Trail of Tears Banner Lands School in Hot Water

    November 20, 2013
    Mike Tuttle

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.

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