Cherokee Nation Remember the Removal Bike Ride retraces Trail of Tears journey
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Twelve cyclists participating in the 2017 Remember the Removal Bike Ride left the Cherokee Nation Tuesday, May 30, to begin a three-week, 950-mile trek retracing the northern route of the Trail of Tears.
The journey is scheduled to bring the riders through Western Kentucky and Southeast Missouri region.
The Cherokee Nation cyclists are joining eight cyclists from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee, N.C., and plan to begin their ride in New Echota, Ga., on June 4. The ride spans seven states before concluding in Tahlequah on June 22.
“Each and every year, the Remember the Removal effort enables some of Cherokee Nation’s strongest emerging leaders to participate in a unique event that is focused on individual growth, teamwork development and, most importantly, sharing Cherokee history and heritage,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said in a news release.
“The journey from Georgia to Oklahoma is mentally and physically challenging, and these young people will return home in a few weeks with a new and profound appreciation of the multitude of sacrifices our ancestors made along the Trail of Tears.”
The original Remember the Removal Bike Ride was in 1984, with the leadership program resuming in 2009.
Participants learn about Cherokee Nation history, language and culture and get a glimpse of the hardships their ancestors faced while making the journey on foot.
In 1838, Cherokees were rounded up and forced from their homes in Georgia, Tennessee and other southeastern states to the Cherokee Nation’s current capital in Tahlequah.
Of approximately 16,000 Cherokees who were forced to make the trek to Indian Territory, it is estimated that 4,000 died from exposure, disease and starvation.
This year, riders will be accompanied by Will Chavez, a participant of the original 1984 Remember the Removal Bike Ride. Chavez was chosen as the program’s inaugural “Mentor Rider.”
Cyclists will also help promote national parks along their journey in honor of a $25,000 grant awarded to the program by the National Park Foundation.
The Remember the Removal Bike Ride journey can be followed at www.facebook.com/removal.ride or by searching for the hashtags #RememberTheRemoval and #RTR2017 on Twitter.
The cyclists travel schedule includes the following area locations:
June 10: Hopkinsville, Ky., to Paducah, Ky. June 11, Paducah to Cape Girardeau. June 13, Cape Girardeau to Farmington, Mo.