Hillsboro, OH (WCMH) — What was supposed to be a friendly game of football between two rural southern Ohio high schools started with controversy over a banner cheerleaders displayed on the field.
After traveling to the Hillsboro Indians stadium, the Greenfield-McClain Tigers cheerleaders held up a banner that said “Hey Indians, Get ready for a Trail of Tears Part 2.” The sign drew backlash online.
The Trail of Tears is the name for the route that thousands of Native Americans traveled when the U.S. government forcibly removed tribes from their homelands in the southeastern United States in accordance with the Indian Removal Act of 1830. More than 4,000 Native Americans died along the route.
A response to the banner appeared briefly on the Greenfield-McClain High School Facebook page saying:
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 statement has since been removed from Facebook. NBC4 reached out to Greenfield Exempted Village Schools and Greenfield-McClain High School and has not received a response.
Another apology was posted on the school website saying:
At the final varsity football game of the year, a horrific mistake was made. A sign was created out of ignorance, not hate. There are no words to express our deepest sympathy to those of Native American and African American descent. We also owe a sincere apology to the communities, families and students of Hillsboro, Greenfield, and beyond. We are currently completing an internal investigation of how this deplorable situation arose. We will take appropriate steps once we have all of the necessary information. By partnering with local organizations, McClain High School will immediately use this moment to further educate our students on the atrocities faced by both the Native American and African American cultures.