(L to R) Joe Keener, Marshall Smith and Noah Collins kick off the 950-mile Remember the Removal Bike Ride Monday on the Trail of Tears Highway in New Echota, Ga.
NEW ECHOTA, Ga. – The 2013 Remember the Removal bike riders will spend the next three weeks retracing their ancestors’ footsteps along the Trail of Tears, which this year marks the 175th anniversary of the forced removal of the Cherokee from their ancestral homelands to what is now Oklahoma. On Monday, 22 Cherokee Nation and Eastern Band of Cherokee citizens pedaled 70 miles, starting in New Echota. The riders will be rolling their bikes through Georgia and then on to Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and end the ride in Oklahoma June 21.
“These men and women will retrace our tribal nation’s route to Oklahoma – from our ancestral homelands in the east to our current capital city,” said Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “It will be a personal and life-changing journey for them. As a student of history, and specifically Cherokee history, I am envious of the journey they are undertaking and the understanding they will attain by travelling the route of removal.”
The ride was started at the Cherokee Nation in 1984. The students will travel the more than 950 miles on bicycles to never forget the hardships of their Cherokee ancestors who made the same trek on foot. Of the estimated 16,000 Cherokees forced to make the journey to Indian Territory, an estimated 4,000 died due to exposure, starvation and disease.
"We know this is going to be a tough physical and emotional journey ahead, and it's not going to be easy," Michell Hicks, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, told the riders. "Friday was a big day for us repurchasing 108 acres at the Cowee Mound. Things are occurring for the Cherokee people, and we continue to progress."
Follow the journey on http://www.facebook.com/removal.ride.
The riders will travel through these cities:
June 4 – Cleveland to Dayton
June 5 – Dayton to Pikeville
June 6 – Pikeville to Woodbury
June 7 – Woodbury to Joelton
June 8 – Joelton to Hopkinsville, Ky.
June 9 – Hopkinsville to Metropolis, Ill.
June 10 – Metropolis to Cape Girardeau, Mo.
June 12 – Cape Girardeau to Farmington
June13 – Farmington to Steelville
June 14 – Steelville to St. Roberts
June 15 – St. Roberts to Lebanon
June 16 – Lebanon to Springfield
June 18 – Springfield to Cassville
June 19 – Cassville to Springdale, Ark.
June 20 – Springdale to Stilwell, Okla.
June 21 – Stilwell to Tahlequah
Cherokee Nation News Release
Julie Hubbard - 918-207-3896
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