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OSU football notebook: 'Trail of Tears' sign causes stir, apology

by Berry Tramel and John Helsley and Kyle Fredrickson Published: August 30, 2014

ESPN’s College GameDay has become must-see TV every Saturday during the college football season.

And as much as the hosts own the show, the fans who show up on set, and their creative signs, have become a popular attraction, too.

One sign Saturday went too far, however, as the GameDay crew worked from Fort Worth in advance of the OSU-FSU game.

The sign read: “Send ‘em home #trail of tears #go pokes.”

Quickly, the sign started a stir and a response from the Cherokee Nation and finally an apology by the OSU student who authored the sign, junior Austin Buchanan.

After the Oklahoma State Twitter account initially favorited the sign via Twitter, the university later issued a brief statement denouncing the message and its offensive message.

The statement: “OSU does not condone the insensitive sign shown at today’s GameDay event and have requested that it be removed.”

In subsequent tweets to followers Saturday, @okstate explained that it “missed the hashtag at first glance and unfavorited.”

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker delivered his state of the nation speech on Saturday. In the yearly speech, unrelated to the sign in Fort Worth, Baker referenced the Trail of Tears, 175 years later.

In a story in the Tulsa World Baker said: "Our ancestors were pulled from their homes in the east, forced into stockades and marched here to Indian Territory by a federal government that tried to brutally extinguish us."

Baker expressed disappointment in the banner in a statement released by the tribe Saturday evening.

He spoke earlier in the day during the 62nd Cherokee National Holiday, an event that also commemorated the 175th anniversary of the last group of Cherokees to walk the Trail of Tears, arriving in Tahlequah in 1839.

"Since these students clearly don't understand the gravity of these events, this should be viewed as a teaching moment for these young people,” Baker said. “We wish them well and hope they seek a more enlightened perspective.”

By the end of the day, Buchanan sounded enlightened.

“Though we did not set out to hurt or offend anyone when we made our banner,” Buchanan said in a statement, “I see that it did just that. Referencing the Trail of Tears in such a flippant and disrespectful manner was insensitive and wrong, and I make no defense for our having had such a lapse in judgment. I apologize for our mistake. I am truly sorry.”


Youth and inexperience have been a dominant storyline around the Cowboys.

And it played out Saturday night.

OSU had 11 players make their first start: offensive linemen Zac Veatch and Zachary Crabtree; receiver Marcell Ateman; running back Tyreek Hill; defensive linemen Emmanuel Ogbah and Ofa Hautau; linebackers Josh Furman and Seth Jacobs; defensive backs Larry Stephens, Jordan Sterns and Ashton Lampkin.

The Cowboys also played 14 freshmen, including seven true freshmen. The redshirt freshman were Jeral Morrow, Tre Flowers, Zachary Crabtree, Kaleb Smith, Vili Levini, Vincent Taylor and Dawson Bassett.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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by Kyle Fredrickson
OSU beat writer
Kyle Fredrickson became the Oklahoma State beat writer for The Oklahoman and in July 2014. A native Coloradoan, Fredrickson attended Western State College before transferring to Oklahoma State in 2010 and graduating in 2012. Fredrickson...
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