'Trail of Tears' Banner at Alabama Football Game Sparks Outrage

Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013 10:58 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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An Alabama high school has apologized for the insensitive Trail of Tears reference that was displayed on a banner at a football game over the weekend.

McCalla, Ala., residents were outraged when they saw the run-through banner that McAdory High School created for the game against the Pinson Valley Indians, AL.com reported.

"Hey Indians, get ready to leave in a Trail of Tears. Round 2," the sign read.

It was seemingly a reference to the Trail of Tears, an ethnic cleansing movement that took place following the Indian Removal Act of 1830. An estimated 4,000 Native Americans died after being forced to make the 230-mile trek from areas of the Southeast to Oklahoma.

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Many people were offended by the banner.

"I definitely felt sick to my stomach to see something I consider such an atrocity in the past of my own family," Adrienne Keene, a Ph.D student at Harvard University and the author of Native Appropriations, told NBC News. "This is representative of the miseducation in our school systems, especially with regard to Native peoples. This points to a lot of underlying issues about how Native Americans are perceived in American society."

On Monday, McAdory principal Tod Humphries took responsibility for the banner.

"This was not condoned by the school administration, the Jefferson County Board of Education, or the community," Humphries said in a statement on the school's website. "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."

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