Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker

Cherokee Nation Responds to Offensive ‘Trail of Tears’ Banner

Cherokee Nation

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

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Norman Ghostwalker Allen Melton Jr's picture
Norman Ghostwal...
Submitted by Norman Ghostwal... on
I am of Cherokee decendant and I was taken aback over that banner as my Great Grandmother told me the stories of the relocation of the Cherokee People.

Jackie Sereno's picture
Jackie Sereno
Submitted by Jackie Sereno on
We also need to teach the kids that just because it seems such a long time ago to them, it remains part of the tribe's collective memory as a wound that will never heal.

Susie Smith's picture
Susie Smith
Submitted by Susie Smith on
The Trail of Tears is a name given to the ethnic cleansing and forced relocation of Native American nations from southeastern parts of the United States following the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The removal included many members of the Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations, among others in the United States, from their homelands to Indian Territory in eastern sections of the present-day state of Oklahoma. The phrase originated from a description of the removal of the Choctaw Nation in 1831. Many Native Americans suffered from exposure, disease and starvation on the route to their destinations. Many died, including 2,000-6,000 of 16,542 relocated Cherokee..European Americans and African American freedmen and slaves also participated in the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek and Seminole forced relocations. In 1831, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek, and Seminole (sometimes collectively referred to as the Five Civilized Tribes) were living as autonomous nations in what would be called the American Deep South. The process of cultural transformation (proposed by George Washington and Henry Knox) was gaining momentum, especially among the Cherokee and Choctaw. Andrew Jackson continued and renewed the political and military effort for the removal of the Native Americans from these lands with the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. In 1831 the Choctaw were the first to be removed, and they became the model for all other removals. After the Choctaw, the Seminole were removed in 1832, the Creek in 1834, then the Chickasaw in 1837, and finally the Cherokee in 1838, After removal, some Native Americans remained in their ancient homelands - the Choctaw are found in Mississippi, the Seminole in Florida. the Creek in Alabama, and the Cherokee in North Carolina. A limited number of non-native Americans (including African-Americans - usually as slaves) also accompanied the Native American nations on the trek westward.] By 1837, 46,000 Native Americans from these southeastern states had been removed from their homelands thereby opening 25 million acres (100,000 km2) for predominantly white settlement.

Kishmoquah's picture
Submitted by Kishmoquah on
That was a nice comment on behalf of the Cherokee Nation about resilience!

marlene day's picture
marlene day
Submitted by marlene day on
we are very proud of your native heritage even though what happened in the past. Banners like this brings pain from our past. These people should be held accountable and not the principal. I am praying for those who are very ignorant and continue to hurt others.

JIM  Horse's picture
JIM Horse
Submitted by JIM Horse on
What about sovereign enterprise on family trust land elders need propane not NIGC casino's contact Native Okla. LPG a Kiowa /Cherokee family.....

Jacinta Wiebe's picture
Jacinta Wiebe
Submitted by Jacinta Wiebe on
the student organizers should be expelled to hate crimes against Indigenous people.

Carl Hutchby's picture
Carl Hutchby
Submitted by Carl Hutchby on
This should not be occurring in this day and age shame on McAdory High School, people need to stand up against this and educate the students as to why this is offensive, I don't believe people can hide behind ignorance anymore.

Josef-Peter Roemer's picture
Josef-Peter Roemer
Submitted by Josef-Peter Roemer on
It is going to take a very long time to change things in the Good O'l US of A about Indians, or any minority race. Racism is so ingrained it this country it is unbelievable. There is a front put up that this country is a melting pot, dream on!.

Tammy Carrera's picture
Tammy Carrera
Submitted by Tammy Carrera on
What happened to the students being considered terrorists...expulsion....loss of credits??? A little slap on the hand doesnt teach them anything! Thats the problem with this country! Special treatment for some and harsh treatment for others. Unbelievable! Whos the adults in administration? What other form of "discipline" do you have? Ignorance is NOT above the law!!!

Jennifer Delap's picture
Jennifer Delap
Submitted by Jennifer Delap on
Everyone needs to know the Choctaw Tribe was the first on the Trail of Tears.

Andre LeCornu's picture
Andre LeCornu
Submitted by Andre LeCornu on
Guess the people there don't know about the terrible atrocities committed against the Indian people. So insensitive!

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
Students didn't sit down as a whole and make this poster get your facts together the main people responsible are the cheerleaders we as a student body did not do this a whole and it's wrong that your ruining the whole schools reputation over something that a small group did