Cherokee Chief Responds To OSU Student 'Trail Of Tears' Game Day Sign

Saturday, August 30th 2014, 1:30 pm
By: News On 6

A game day sign painted by a group of OSU students is bringing national attention to the state of Oklahoma as the college football season begins.

Oklahoma State University plays the Florida State Seminoles Saturday, and a group of students displayed a sign that reads, "Send 'em home," followed by hashtags for "#Trail_of_Tears" and "GoPokes."

A photo of the sign was posted on Twitter where response has been overwhelmingly negative. OSU tweeted in response: "OSU does not condone the insensitive sign shown at today's GameDay event and have requested that it be removed."

The incident took place on the Cherokee National Holiday where tribal members celebrate the signing of their constitution and commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Trail of Tears, the forced march from the Southeast to Oklahoma that killed thousands of Native Americans.

8/30/2014 Related Story: Cherokee National Holiday Celebration Underway In Tahlequah

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker told News On 6 he'd seen the sign, but knows that their "good partners" at OSU will do their best to explain to students "how hurtful" the sign is in light of the tribe's heritage and history.

"It's not going to ruin our holiday," he said. "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."

He said, "It's particularly disappointing this unfortunate display happened the same weekend as Cherokee National Holiday, when we celebrate our resilience and ability to adapt and survive unimaginable circumstances. For months, we've also commemorated the 175th anniversary of the conclusion of the Trail of Tears. Since these students clearly don't understand the gravity of these events, this should be viewed as a teaching moment for these young people. We wish them well and hope they seek a more enlightened perspective."