Remember the Removal Bike Ride Marks 175th Anniversary of the Cherokee Nation's Trail of Tears


The 2013 Remember the Removal Bike Ride is the fifth annual bicycle ride commemorating the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation from its homelands during the winter of 1838-39. This year marks the 175th anniversary of the Cherokee Nation’s Trail of Tears. The 900-plus-mile trek is accomplished over a three week period in June as selected riders representing the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians retrace the northern route of the Trail of Tears through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. The Cherokee Nation will sponsor a team of riders on the journey of a lifetime, averaging 60 miles of riding per day.

“Today students read in history books a brief section about the removal, but by participating in the ride they are able to experience firsthand the trials and tribulations of the Trail of Tears,” said coordinator Taylor Alsenay, in a Cherokee Nation press release. “The Remember the Removal Bike Ride is a great lifetime experience.”

During evenings and along the way, the group will explore and experience activities that link the riders to the experiences their Cherokee ancestors had at the time of the removal. The ride is both an educational opportunity and a goodwill event. While on the trip, individual riders will use blogging and other social media, photos and videos to provide daily updates of their experiences on the ride. The ride will culminate with an exciting homecoming event as the team arrives in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the capitol of the Cherokee Nation.

Remember the Removal bike riders from 2012 traveled the Trail of Tears route through Missouri. Applications for 2013 riders are now available for the three-week ride in June. (Photo by Cherokee Nation)

Cherokee Nation is accepting applications for the 2013 Remember the Removal Ride until March 22. To qualify, you must be a Cherokee Nation citizen, enrolled in high school or college in good academic standing and at least 16 years old. Space is limited and potential applicants will be asked to provide background and health information, parental consent if under 18 and a brief statement about why they would like to participate in the project. After an initial review, an advisory panel will interview each candidate to determine interest and commitment to the project. To meet the goal of the event, you need to be in good physical shape and make the commitment to bike daily for several weeks in various weather conditions.

Riders must provide their own clothes, bedding, toiletries and spending cash. Cherokee Nation will provide meals, bicycles, biking gear, GPS and lodging. If selected, you must be dedicated to training for the ride, both individually and as a group, and to completing the journey.

To download the application for the 2013 bike ride, click here.

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boujoie's picture
Submitted by boujoie on
TRAIL OF TEARS REMEMBERED Such poignant memories were evoked after reading about the bike riders commemorating the 175th anniversary of the Trail of Tears. Being of Anishnaabe heritage, raised in a white culture, I was told many stories to connect me with my native roots. I learned about the displacement of original people from their native lands, with one in particular being the Cherokee Nation. Our father wouldn't let us avoid some of the painful lessons that were offered until they were irrevocably burned deeply in our hearts. In 1988, when the Western Oklahoma Band of Cherokees rejoined the Eastern Band, after 150 years of separation, I was living in Asheville, NC, close to Cherokee, NC, where the reunion was hosted. As the many Nations from all over the eastern and western states, and Canada, began to arrive, to celebrate and honor this great event, I learned that many had met up at the Great Medicine Wheel in Wyoming to ride in together. I had visited that Sacred Site a short time before, to offer prayers and receive guidance. As I awoke before dawn on that morning of the reunion, the sky was such a beautiful, glowing soft pink/lavender that often rings in the realms at dawn. I witnessed SkyBeings, Elders, Wisdom Keepers. and many other Spirit Beings, riding in on their Spirit Horses, decorated in their best garments, to infuse the area with their strong energies of Remembrance. I became charged with their vibrations. I carried them into the meeting hall, and felt them being included as I greeted the physical great- grandsons and granddaughters of those original people. What a gift! When the hosts were up in the main arena, setting the energies for the event with their prayers, I remained on the floor below, as guided, reflecting on what was occurring. The blessings I felt were many. I was/am so grateful to Great Spirit for being allowed to Witness in these small ways. Several years earlier, when I was driving to Wyoming from back east, I kept finding myself on the Trail of Tears. Every so often I would be "forced" to stop at a particular area. Before I could think about it, I would be overcome with racking sobs; my legs would drop out from underneath me. It was as if I were being used as a conduit to gather up some of the anguish and pain of those former days and years, and then release the earthbound memories. So much more happened, butfornow I would like to close by noting that the new Catholic Pope was chosen today. He has named himself "Francis", signifying the simplest of all servants to the animals, birds, people and our Great Father/Mother God. My prayer is that we all strive to forgive, and with each step traveled, re-member how simple we can all be -- by just BEing. Joie Bourisseau May 13, 2013