This past weekend students at a McAdory High School football game in McAlla, Alabama displayed a 20-foot sign emblazoned with: “Hey Indians, Get Ready to Leave in a Trail of Tears, Round 2.” A photograph of the sign has sparked outrage and has gone viral in Indian country social media streams. The school principal issued an apology this morning.
The photo was first published on Tumblr by a user under the name of fiftyfourfortyorfight, and was followed by several other Twitter and other social media accounts.
Though fiftyfourfortyorfight has since deleted the post, the statement on their tumblr wall said:
“Last night, this sign went up at a McAdory High School football game. I am absolutely disgusted that this sign was allowed to go up, and that it was not stopped by school administrators, and that after this, no one has mentioned it.
The school and the students have shown no remorse for the sign (as expected) and the students have claimed ignorance and/or that it was just a “joke”. Sorry, but the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the death of thousands of Native Americans is not a joke.
As of 5 pm Sunday, no response from the school has been issued, and the local news to which I have reported this incident have not looked into it either. Further information will be added as it comes to me.”
Social media has been ablaze with comments as well. “McAdory High School: Take responsibility for your racist banner at your football game” by @BridgetJonina. “I find this to be downright insulting! I had family that died on the Trail Of Tears. Bastards!!!” said Brian Moses on Google+. “This is unfeeling and thoughtless and goes beyond name calling,” said +Shrinking Violet on Google+.
According to Channel Fox 6 WBRC in Alabama, Jefferson County Superintendent Dr. Stephen Nowlin said in a statement that “the cheerleading squad will be disciplined.” Nowlin also said McAdory High School Principal Tod Humphries has asked the school’s social studies teachers to teach a special unit on the Trail of Tears.
This morning, Humphries issued an apology on the school’s website:
To Whom It May Concern:
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.
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.
Several attempts were made to contact school officials, but were unsuccessful.