Ohio Cheerleaders Cause Controversy with ‘Trail of Tears’ Banner at Game
A group of Ohio high school cheerleaders have come under fire for the use of a game banner that referenced the "Trail of Tears", the force removal of Native Americans that resulted in over 4,000 deaths.
The Greenfield-McClain Tigers traveled to the Hillsboro Indians stadium last week for a football game, with the cheerleaders bringing a banner that said, “Hey Indians, Get ready for a Trail of Tears Part 2.” One spectator on hand posted a picture of the banner on Twitter, calling it ignorant and offensive.
A response was posted to the Greenfield-McClain Facebook page, but was quickly taken down,
Tonight an event occurred that does not reflect the values or beliefs that we try to instill in the students of McClain High School. An immediate apology was issued to both the principal and athletic director of Hillsboro High School. We would also like to apologize to the citizens of Greenfield for the poor reflection on our community. This matter will be addressed internally.
Initial requests for comments from news sources like NBC4 went unanswered. The school finally posted another statement to their official website,
At the final varsity football game of the year, a horrific mistake was made. A sign was created out of ignorance, not hate. There are no words to express our deepest sympathy to those of Native American and African American descent. We also owe a sincere apology to the communities, families and students of Hillsboro, Greenfield, and beyond. We are currently completing an internal investigation of how this deplorable situation arose. We will take appropriate steps once we have all of the necessary information. By partnering with local organizations, McClain High School will immediately use this moment to further educate our students on the atrocities faced by both the Native American and African American cultures.
McClain High School is still dodging trouble for pictures of Spirit Week the school attempted to remove from its website in the wake of the controversy. While the galleries were deleted, Deadspin was able to retrieve the pictures because the original files were not removed. The pictures of the school Spirit Week depicted students dressed in stereotypical representations of Native Americans, African Slaves, and Mexican and Chinese laborers.
"Trail of Tears" refers to the route taken by Native Americans when they were forceably relocated from their homelands in the southeast as part of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, resulting in more than 4,000 deaths along the route. Many critics of the cheerleaders' actions say that education of Native American history is necessary in today's climate with situations like the North Dakota Pipeline.