Last Thursday marked the end of the annual “Remember the Removal” bike ride, in which members of the Cherokee nation ride 900 miles from New Echota, Georgia to Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The ride takes several weeks, and is a real test of endurance in the summer heat.
According to the Cherokee Nation’s website, “the ride originated more than 30 years ago as a leadership program that offered Cherokee students a glimpse of the hardships their ancestors faced while making the same trek on foot.” Most cyclists have personal reasons for wanting to participate:
“I carry a photo of my third great-grandmother, Sallie Mitilla Harlan, who was only 3 years old when she came over on the Trail of Tears,” 2015 Remember the Removal cyclist Charles “Billy” Flint said. “I think about how her earliest memories must be from the trail, and I can’t imagine what that must’ve been like. So I’m carrying her photo because this is the journey she took, and she didn’t have a choice. I had a choice, and I chose to do this ride to honor her and everyone else who was forced on the removal.”
Potential riders must pass through a competitive application process and be fit enough to train for the event for the four months preceding it. For more information about the bike ride, visit the event’s Facebook page, which includes video diaries from the participants.
To learn about the Trail of Tears, read the American History I: Case Study: The Trail of Tears in Chapter 11: the Age of Jackson. For more resources about the Trail of Tears, visit the Cherokee Nation’s site on the subject, which includes data, documents, and analysis. Or check out the National Park Service”s Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. (The featured image above is a Trail of Tears sign on Hwy 71 through Fayetteville, Arkansas, taken by Wikimedia Commons user Yam Nahar.)