A dozen Cherokee students will depart the Cherokee Nation on Wednesday to retrace the path of their ancestors along the Trail of Tears. Their journey will take them more than 950 miles across seven states on bicycles.
Principal Chief Bill John Baker and tribal leaders will hold a special send-off ceremony to wish the riders a prosperous journey and safe return.
This year’s ride celebrates the 30th anniversary of the original RTR bike ride taken in 1984 as a leadership program for young Cherokees. It also commemorates the 175th year since the last group of Cherokees arrived in Tahlequah on March 24, 1839, after being forcibly removed from their homelands in the Southeast and relocated to Indian Territory.
The 2014 Remember the Removal Bike Ride participants will join six riders from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are descendants of the small group of Cherokees who remained in North Carolina, evading the forced removal. Together, the group will start the ride in New Echota, Georgia, embarking on a three-week journey following the northern route of the Trail of Tears, which spans Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Cyclists will put their bodies to the test as they travel an average of 60 miles a day, mirroring in part the hardships of their Cherokee ancestors who made the same trek on foot. Of the estimated 16,000 Cherokees who were forced to make the journey to Indian Territory, 4,000 died due to exposure, starvation and disease, giving credence to the name Trail of Tears. Follow this year’s journey on https://www.facebook.com/removal.ride.