Cherokee Nation Responds to Offensive ‘Trail of Tears’ Banner

 Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker

Cherokee Nation; Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

The Cherokee Nation has responded to an offensive banner displayed at an Alabama high school football game that has drawn national attention.
The banner, made by McAdory High School students for a football playoff game, referenced the opposing team’s mascot, the “Indians,” by displaying the message: “Hey Indians, get ready to leave in a Trail of Tears, Round 2.”

RELATED: High School Slammed for Its Mocking and Shocking ‘Trail of Tears’ Banner

In the 1830s, the Cherokee Nation and many other tribes were forcibly removed from their homelands in Alabama and other states in the Southeast, and marched hundreds of miles to Indian Territory, now present-day Oklahoma.
 Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker issued the following statement.

“Ironically, the Cherokee Nation is commemorating the 175th anniversary of the start of our Trail of Tears this year. About 16,000 Cherokees began the trek to Oklahoma from our homelands in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Kentucky, but only 12,000 lived through the harsh conditions that winter.

The Trail of Tears was arguably the most horrific period in the Cherokee Nation’s history and among the worst atrocities ever sanctioned by the United States government.
 The legacy of that terrible era has had a profound effect on generations of tribal citizens, and still lingers today.
 This unfortunate display shows how much improvement is still needed in the understanding of Native peoples, our triumphs and our challenges, both historical and modern.

“We hope this becomes an opportunity for administrators at McAdory High School, and at schools all across the United States, to teach our young people not only the terrible history behind the Indian removal era, but also the resilience of tribes across the nation.”

November is also Native American Heritage Month. To learn more about observances this month, please visit

RELATED: Principal Apologizes for ‘Trail of Tears’ Banner—Makes it a Teaching Moment



McAdory High School issues apology for ‘Trail of Tears’ banner held up at weekend football game


By Ana Rodriguez |

November 18, 2013

MCCALLA, Alabama — McAdory High School has issued a public apology for a “Trail of Tears” banner that was held up during a weekend football game versus the Pinson Valley Indians.

The sign, which originally began making the internet rounds through a Tumblr blog post, reads:

“Hey Indians, get ready to leave in a Trial of Tears part 2”

On the McAdory High School website, Principal Tod Humphries said he accepts ” full responsibility that arrangements were not made to have the signs pre-approved before the ballgame.”

The person who is usually in charge of approving such signs, he said, is currently out on maternity leave.

The sign, said Humphries, “was not condoned by the school administration, the Jefferson County Board of Education or the community.”

Humphries then goes on to offer “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.”

Click here to read the full apology.

The Trail of Tears refers to the U.S. Government’s forcible removal of
Indians from areas in the Southeast to what is now Oklahoma. The move came during the 1830s as part of a push to remove all tribes east of the Mississippi to the west.  The Trail encompassed the relocation of the Seminole, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek and Choctaw nations.

About 1,070 Indians were transported from Ross’ Landing in Chattanooga to what is now Waterloo. Much of the 230-mile journey followed what is now U.S. 72.

From 1838 to 1839, as many as 20,000 Cherokee marched or rode in wagons or boats to Arkansas and Oklahoma. The route is known as the Trail of Tears because about 4,000 died on the trip.

Earlier today, BuzzFeed posted a story about the controversial banner on its website.

The banner and its message have also sparked conversation on Twitter:

Photo: Last night, this sign went up at a McAdory High School football game. I am absolutely disgusted that…

— sunny b (@sunnybeezy_) November 18, 201

So the forced removal and deaths of thousands is ok to joke about now? Mcadory High School in Mcalla, Alabama.

— IdleNoMoreSoNV (@IdleNoMoreSoNV) November 18, 2013 very inappropriate reference to trail of tears at McAdory High School #backchannel #earlyrisers

— John (@JohnNavarra) November 18, 2013


Public Apology issued  by McAdory High School


Monday, November 18, 2013

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.


Tod Humphries


Train carrying oil derails, explodes in Alabama

Derailment is latest in string of incidents as US increasingly relies on rail to transport oil


Smoke rises from derailed train cars in western Alabama on Nov. 8, 2013.WBMA via Reuters


Source: Climate Connection

A 90-car train carrying crude oil derailed in western Alabama on Friday, causing flames to burst hundreds of feet into the air.

The train was heading from the oil boomtowns of North Dakota to a Shell chemical plant near Mobile, Alabama. Unlike in recent oil train derailments, there were no reports of injuries or deaths. But the incident was another reminder of the dangers of North America’s increased reliance on a patchwork of railroads used to transport billions of gallons of newly discovered oil across the United States and Canada.

Concern had already been raised after a July accident in Lac-Megantic, Canada, in which 47 people were killed.

In Alabama on Friday, 20 of the train’s cars derailed, throwing flames 300 feet into the air. Those cars were being left to burn down, which could take up to 24 hours, according to the train owner, Genesee & Wyoming.

If full, the train, which passes near schools and crosses rivers in the area, could hold up to 65,000 barrels of crude oil.

It was not initially clear what caused Friday’s accident in Pickens County, Alabama. The train was being driven by two engineers, both unharmed, officials said.

The accident happened in a wetlands area which eventually feeds into the Tombigbee River, according to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. Booms were placed in the wetlands to contain the spilled oil.

Accidents involving oil being transported via train have become more common as oil production has dramatically increased in places like North Dakota and Canada. That has led to flurry of debate over how to best transport the highly-flammable oils, with some advocating for an increased use of pipelines, and others arguing that rail systems make for more environmentally secure transport.

The East and West coasts in particular turned to rail years ago to draw in U.S. and Canadian crude. With no major oil pipelines in operation, or even planned, rail allowed them to tap into the burgeoning shale market.

In the last three months, crude-by-rail shipments rose 44 percent from the previous year to 93,312 carloads, equivalent to about 740,000 barrels per day or almost one tenth of U.S. production.

The practice shows no sign of slowing down. Analysts expect up to 40 times more oil to be transported by trains in the next five years.

While many are concerned, the alternatives for transporting vast amounts of oil don’t seem to please activists and safety experts either. Environmentalists vehemently opposed the Keystone XL pipeline, one of the biggest proposed pipelines in the country.

And research shows that pipelines, if they leak, can spill much more oil than trains do.

The most recent round of controversy over transporting oil by freight started over the summer when a train derailed in Lac-Megantic.

That incident, which the operator Montreal Maine & Atlantic blamed on a train engineer not applying enough brakes on an incline, fueled a drive for tougher standards for oil rail shipments.

Since then, there have been several new regulations proposed for oil-by-freight operations, including better labeling for what’s contained in each train, but nothing permanent has been signed into law.