GREENFIELD, OH (AP) – An Ohio school widely criticized over a banner displayed at a prep school football game recalling the country’s mistreatment of Native Americans is responding with an action plan that includes more apologies and history lessons for its students.
The banner was made by some Greenfield-McClain High School cheerleaders for the school’s matchup with a longtime rival football team, the Hillsboro High School Indians, on Oct. 30. It read: “Hey Indians, Get Ready for a Trail of Tears Part 2,” referring to the 19th century forced relocation of Cherokee. Thousands died of starvation, illness or exposure.
The high school in Greenfield emailed its apology earlier to two Hillsboro-based newspapers, some 60 miles east of Cincinnati. The school’s principal, Jason Potts, says he and the cheerleaders who constructed the banner have since worked on an action plan that includes educating students on the 19th century relocation, the Hillsboro Times-Gazette reported. A cheerleaders’ representative also recorded an audio apology to students and staff affected by the outcry over the banner.
Potts has insisted that the banner, which drew national attention and hundreds of complaints from people offended by its message, was “created out of ignorance, not hate.” He said the banner should have been reviewed beforehand and approved by the cheerleaders’ adviser.
Potts and the students involved met Monday to work on the action plan. The cheerleaders also agreed to volunteer at one of the area’s several Native American sites on a Saturday in November, and members of the school’s student council planned to meet this week with the Hillsboro student council to discuss the issue surrounding the banner.
Hillsboro Principal Jason Snively said the banner showed that there was a matter of sensitivity that needed to be addressed, but he said he understands it was the work of “young adolescents” and doesn’t believe it was meant out of hate for any culture.