An Alabama high school principal has issued a public apology after the school’s cheerleading squad invoked the Indian Removal Act of 1830 during a football game, Native News Online reported on Monday.
Cheerleaders for McAdory High School in McCalla, 21 miles from Birmingham, used the sign before the school’s game against the Pinson Valley High Indians. It read, “Hey Indians, get ready to leave in a Trail of Tears, Round 2.” The school was criticized over the weekend after photos of the sign were widely shared online.
Bryan Sappier, chairman of the Society of American Indian Government Employees, told WTIA-TV that a relative in Tennessee brought the sign to his attention after seeing it posted on Twitter.
“I felt disrespected, Sappier, an Alabama resident, said to WTIA. “I felt hurt that we allowed our students, our youth, to participate in this.”
Monday, McAdory Principal Tod Humprhies posted a statement on the school website apologizing to the Native American community and saying the school’s history teachers had been ordered to review the “Trail of Tears,” as the forced relocation and campaign of aggression against several tribal nations stemming from the 1830 law has come to be known. Jefferson County Superintendent Stephen Nowlin was quoted as saying that McAdory’s cheerleaders will be disciplined.
“This was not condoned by the school administration, the Jefferson County Board of Education or the community,” Humphries wrote on the school’s site. “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.”
“I don’t really think that they meant harm,” Sappier allows, “but I do think that they didn’t stop to think of the words and how it impacts the general public.”
Watch WTIA’s report on the sign, as aired on Monday, below.