(L-R) 2018 Remember the Removal Bike Ride participants Parker Weavel, Amari McCoy, Daulton Cochran, Emilee Chavez and Sky Wildcat, Cherokee Spiritual Leader Crosslin Smith, Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Cherokee Nation Businesses Executive Vice President Chuck Garrett, Tribal Council Speaker Joe Byrd and 2018 Remember the Removal Bike Ride participants Autumn Lawless, Courtney Cowan, Jennifer Johnson, Dale Eagle and Lily Drywater.
Ten cyclists participating in the 2018 Remember the Removal Bike Ride left the Cherokee Nation Tuesday morning to begin a three-week trek spanning approximately 950 miles along the northern route of the Trail of Tears.
The Cherokee Nation’s 10 cyclists will join eight from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee, North Carolina. After participating in cultural activities and team-building exercises in North Carolina, their ride will begin in New Echota, Georgia, on June 3. While commemorating the 180th anniversary of the Trail of Tears, cyclists will travel through seven states before concluding in Tahlequah on June 21.
“The Remember the Removal Bike Ride ensures our future leaders don’t forget the past and always honor the sacrifices our ancestors made,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “It is a grueling journey on a bike, but the struggles on the ride offer greater understanding of what our ancestors experienced along the trail 180 years ago as they make stops at museums, gravesites, national parks, churches and other historic sites. This experience will reshape how these young people view life and their heritage.”
The original Remember the Removal Bike Ride was held in 1984, and the leadership program resumed as an annual ride in 2009. Participants learn about Cherokee Nation’s history, language and culture and get a glimpse of the hardships their ancestors faced while making the journey on foot.
Starting 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 journey to Indian Territory, about 4,000 died from disease, starvation and exposure to the elements.
“I have already learned so much and I am just so honored to be a part of this ride and have the opportunity to represent my tribe in this way,” 2018 Remember the Removal Bike Ride participant Courtney Cowan said.
Cherokee Nation cyclists include Daulton Cochran, of Adair County; Emilee Chavez, Lily Drywater, Dale Eagle, Parker Weavel and Sky Wildcat, all of Cherokee County; Courtney Cowan, of Delaware County; Autumn Lawless, of Muskogee County; and Amari McCoy, of Sequoyah County. The riders are being accompanied by Jennifer Johnson, an Oklahoma City lawyer and Cherokee Nation citizen who was chosen as the 2018 mentor rider.
Cherokee Nation Businesses Executive Vice President Chuck Garrett, an avid cyclist, is also joining the cyclists during a portion of the ride.
Participants from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are Jan Smith, Seth Ledford, Lori Owle, Nolan Arkansas, Brooke Coggins, Darius Lambert, Ahli-sha Stephens and Bo Taylor.
Follow the Remember the Removal Bike Ride at http://www.facebook.com/removal.ride and at www.remembertheremoval.cherokee.org. On Twitter and Instagram, search for the hashtags #RTR2018 and #WeRemember.
Cyclists will travel through the following cities and states on these dates:
June 3 – New Echota to Cleveland, Tennessee
June 4 – Cleveland to Dayton
June 5 – Dayton to Spencer
June 6 – Spencer to Murfreesboro
June 7 – Murfreesboro to Guthrie, Kentucky
June 8 – Guthrie to Princeton
June 9 – Princeton to Mantle Rock
June 10 – Golconda to Ward
June 12 – Cape Girardeau to Farmington
June 13 – Farmington to Steelville
June 14 – Steelville to Waynesville
June 15 – Waynesville to Competition
June 16 – Competition to Strafford
June 18 – Republic to Cassville
June 19 – Cassville to Pea Ridge, Arkansas
June 20 – Fayetteville to Stilwell, Oklahoma
June 21 – Stilwell to Tahlequah
KXMX News Staff
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