Image source: Deadspin.com

Oklahoma State Fans Hold 'Trail of Tears' Banner for College GameDay

ICTMN Staff
8/30/14

A group of Oklahoma State University football fans have sparked outrage for a sign they created to hold during ESPN's GameDay football-preview show.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys play the Florida State Seminoles tonight in a game in Arlington, Texas. The fans in question evidently felt that referencing a historical tragedy would be a clever play on the Seminoles' name, and created a banner that said "Send 'Em Home #trail_of_tears #gopokes".

Influential sports blog Deadspin.com called it "one of the dumbest GameDay signs you'll ever see."

The sign is concerning on a few levels. The Trail of Tears refers to the consequence of the Indian Removal Act of 1830: The forced relocation of American Indians from the southeastern United States to Indian Territory, a region which would later be known as Oklahoma. Between 1830 and 1837, some 46,000 Indians were removed, and many thousands died on the journey west. It's odd, to put it mildly, that Oklahoma State football fans in particular could create a sign (and it's not a small sign) that so casually treated a tragedy that is an integral part of their own state's history. According to 2010 statistics, Oklahoma State graduated the most Native American students of any college in the country, and its student body was 9.2% American Indian or Alaska Native.

RELATED: ESPN Announcer Apologizes for "Trail of Tears" Comment

There's also something ignorant about a sign that references the Trail of Tears and also says "Send 'Em Home." The Trail of Tears wasn't about sending anybody home -- it was about driving Native people from their homes. And in a larger sense, the entire continent was Natives' "home" until certain uninvited guests showed up, beginning in 1492. 

Today is the Cherokee National Holiday; when contacted for comment, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said that the sign was "not going to ruin our holiday. ... We're trying to at least educate our state and other states as well so they truly understand, and we've got more work to do."

From the official @okstate twitter feed, the university addressed the issue with the following statement: "OSU does not condone the insensitive sign shown at today's GameDay event and have requested that it be removed."

The general reaction on Twitter has been one of outrage and disappointment, from Natives and non-Natives alike. Mark Charles, Navajo, who tweets as @WirelessHogan, summed up his feelings with the following graphic:

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page

POST A COMMENT

Comments

ppmickey's picture
ppmickey
Submitted by ppmickey on
The students that were stupid enough to hold up this insensitive, ridiculous sign should be sent home and not allowed back into Oklahoma State University. Maybe they'd fit in better at a college or university somewhere else. I wonder if that would send them home in tears?

tmsyr11's picture
tmsyr11
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
Mark Charles, ppmickey: Something to KEEP IN MIND at the next College/University PROTEST RALLY in support of Progressive-causes, equality, abortion rights…..SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS, some have more RIGHTs and than others.

indianmedicine's picture
indianmedicine
Submitted by indianmedicine on
Immature Humor, and Poor Choice for a Ra Ra Sis Boom-ba Cheerleader Chant........................................................................................................ .................................................................................................................. Obviously, these Students have NOT reached the Age of Majority... ..................................................................................................................

hammertime's picture
hammertime
Submitted by hammertime on
that is very stupid and insensitive... It makes me wonder if they even know what the trail of tears was..... The historical event is nothing for anyone in this counrty to be proud of.

Grayhorse's picture
Grayhorse
Submitted by Grayhorse on
When I went to school I never read anything in the History books about what happen to the Indians. I've learned the truth about what the Government did to the Indians, and how they were treated. I think History books should be rewritten with the real truth in them. The students holding up the sign have not been told the real story, if they heard the real story, this might not have happened.
5