Alabama high school slammed over 'Trail of Tears' banner at football game

An Alabama high school principal has apologized after a racially insensitive banner was erected Friday at his school’s football game.

The banner read, “Hey Indians, get ready to leave in a Trail of Tears Round 2.” The Pinson Valley Indians were playing the McAdory Yellowjackets at McAdory High School in McCalla, Ala., on Friday night.

The Trail of Tears refers to the path followed by members of Native American nations after the Indian Removal Act of 1830. After the act’s passage, tens of thousands of Native Americans from the southeastern United States were forced to make the 230-mile trek to Indian Territory in what is now eastern Oklahoma.

The act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson in an effort to force assimilation among Native Americans and open their land to mostly white settlers.

Thousands of Native Americans died from exposure, disease and exhaustion during the journey.

A photo of the banner posted on Instagram quickly spread and led to outrage on social networks, with many users calling for the school to issue an apology.

Principal Tod Humphries posted an apology Monday on the McAdory High School website and said he takes “full responsibility” for the sign, which normally would have faced an approval process prior to being used at the game.

Humphries said the person who would normally have been responsible for approving the sign is out on maternity leave.

“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,” he said.

All social studies and history teachers have been directed to reteach or review units pertaining to the Indian Removal Act of 1830, Humphries said.

Chase Iron Eyes, a Standing Rock and Oglala Lakota and co-founder of Last Real Indians, told NBC News the banner prompted “expected shock” within Native American communities.

“When institutions and sports organizations have Indians as mascots or monikers the unavoidable result is racially or socio-politically driven offensive material,” he said.

Contact Stephanie Grimes at Find her on Twitter: @steph_grimes