McAdory High School apologizes for Trail of Tears sign - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

McAdory High School apologizes for Trail of Tears sign

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Photo courtesy Mike Dalton. Photo courtesy Mike Dalton.
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

McAdory High School issued an apology on Monday after a ‘bust thru' sign offended several people.

The sign in question was directed at their opponents in the second round of the state play-offs, Pinson Valley High School, whose mascot is the Indians. The sign read:

"Hey Indians, Get ready to leave in a trail of tears round 2."

The McAdory High School Princpial and Jefferson County Superintendent issued apologies for the signs.

The sign was considered racially offensive, especially to those in the Native American community.

"I felt disrespected, hurt, that we allowed our students, our youth to participate in this," said Brian Sappier, who is a board member with the Society of American Indian Government Employees.

The Trail Of Tears was a period in U.S. history when the government forcibly removed thousands of Native Americans from the southeast to what is now the state of Oklahoma. During that time over 4,000 Indians died.

"Being Native American month, this actually has more of an impact," Sappier said." It shows racism does still exist."

But McAdory High School Principal Tod Humphries said he did not think the sign was made with malicious intent.

"I think they made a mistake of not checking the sign," Humphries said.

Humphries says that the cheerleading coach who normally monitors these signs was on maternity leave when it was made. Humphries says no one looked over the sign, including himself, because he didn't foresee the squad making a sign like this. When he saw the sign on the field Friday night he immediately realized it was a problem, but it was too late to get to it.

Jefferson County Superintendent Dr. Stephen Nowlin said in a statement on the school system's website that "the cheerleading squad will be disciplined." Nowlin says in the statement that Humphries has asked the school's social studies teachers to teach a special unit on the Trail of Tears.

Humphries made the apology on Monday morning by posting this statement on the 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.

Sincerely,

Tod Humphries

Read Nowlin's full statement below:

We are disappointed that an offensive sign was displayed at McAdory High School on November 15 during a football game. It was insensitive to our Native Americans and we apologize to them. The principal has published a letter of apology for McAdory High School. It is posted on the school website here and a copy of that letter is below:

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.

Sincerely,

Tod Humphries

The cheerleading squad will be disciplined. The sponsor of the cheerleaders was on maternity leave and the sign was not approved in advance by the school administration. The principal is asking all social studies teachers to teach each grade a lesson about the real Trail of Tears. We can use this unfortunate event as an important teachable moment. We apologize to all Native Americans and to any person who was offended. Our curriculum department will ensure that all students in the future will have a lesson on the Trail of Tears.

Copyright 2013 WBRC.  All rights reserved.

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