A group of cheerleaders and students at a Friday night Ohio high school football game between the Greenfield-McClain Tigers and Hillsboro Indians featured an approximately five-foot tall banner that read, “Hey Indians, Get Ready for A Trail of TEARS Part 2.”
The cheerleaders brought the banner to the Hillsboro Indians Stadium, and immediately drew fire online for the display. Rachel Onusko, who was in the stands, thought the banner was inappropriate and tweeted a photo along with her thoughts that the banner was “beyond ignorant and offensive.”
Many noted similarities to the Alabama high school that displayed a “Trail of Tears” banner in 2013.
Onusko told ICTMN, “I think it's important that this issue is being brought to light, especially during the events taking place in North Dakota and the racism still being represented through major league mascots. The very poor taste in the sign does not represent the views of my entire community, but it is imperative to realize when something is harmful. Ignorance should not be tolerated.”
Zach Perie, (@ZachPerie) a senior at McClain High School told ICTMN he feels the banner was tasteless and insensitive. “I believe that the any students involved and any adults should be reprimanded and educated about the atrocities of the event and that an apology should be issued by the squad. It's a terrible incident that I want to stress does not represent or reflect the values that many of the students of McClain and the citizens of Greenfield hold. The Trail of Tears is something that should never be made light of.”
“It's so important that events like this are spoken out against. I see so many people trying to defend the banner by saying it wasn't meant to be racist, but that doesn't matter. It was inappropriate and any person with an understanding of the horrors that took place during the Trail of Tears would also know that this sign is offensive. There is no excuse for this,” he said to ICTMN.
According to NBC news in Columbus, a response to the banner was posted briefly on the Greenfield-McClain High School Facebook page on Friday night:
“Tonight an event occurred that does not reflect the values or beliefs that we try to instill in the students of McClain High School. An immediate apology was issued to both the principal and athletic director of Hillsboro High School. We would also like to apologize to the citizens of Greenfield for the poor reflection on our community. This matter will be addressed internally.”
The comment has since been removed.
ICTMN has reached out to Greenfield-McClain High School and has not yet received a response.
Follow ICTMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wow’s and Sports Editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling