Education | Opinion | Sports

Jennie Stockle: Fans mock Cherokee people with Trail of Tears sign






Oklahoma State University fans posted this photo of a sign that made light of the Trail of Tears at a football game on Saturday night.

Jennie Stockle of Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry discusses the Trail of Tears incident at a football game in Oklahoma:
Cherokee Nation citizens had a set plan for our Cherokee National Holiday weekend. Plans that would be later interrupted by some college students from Oklahoma State University holding up an offensive sign. This weekend commemorated the 175th anniversary of the Trail of Tears where an estimated one out of every four Cherokees perished on the forced death march from their homes in the "old country" to lands in Indian Territory. Many people wrongly consider the Trail of Tears as the end of all the taking from the Cherokee Nation. Instead, it was a horrific starting point. Later years would see forced land sales and grabs, our government going underground, and cultural stripping. As a nation we always are moving forward to restore so much of what has been taken and remember our ancestors legacy. One day we will be ancestors too. It is a real emotional connection to our nation.

Whenever I hear the words "Trail of Tears" I feel a little drop in the center of the earth below my feet. It was always more than a brutal incident in history. It was about people whose stories I have heard since I could hear. The Uncle who ran in his shackles from US Soldiers and tried to escape. He was hunted down by a search party and murdered. A young man who watched both his grandparents die before him and not from old age or illness, but from abuse. A baby girl being born along the way. Cherokee mothers who had lost their children helped care for her and protect her. By some miracle, she made it. It was the story of a toddler disguised as a girl so that he might make the forced march alive. The DNA of all these people lives in every cell of my body and is also in my children. So when their memory is attacked, mocked, or jokingly used by an outsider, it is undeniably personal.

Get the Story:
Jennie Stockle: The Oklahoma State Incident: Reforming the Racism Cycle (Indian Country Today 9/1)

Related Stories:
Jennie Stockle: A safe space for opponents of offensive mascotry (9/1)