NASHVILLE – Tenn. – The 2015 Remember the Removal ride is currently completing a three-week journey to retrace the northern route of the Trail of Tears. Cyclists involved with this historical tribute ride shared their experiences in Nashville on Friday, June 12 with members of the United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. (USET), Indian Health Service Nashville Area Office (BIA), and the Bureau of Indian Affairs Eastern Regional Office (BIA-ERO). Twelve riders from the Cherokee Nation and seven riders from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have combined to cross seven states along the 950-mile trail.
June 11 marked the fifth straight cycling day that Remember the Removal Riders have completed with members of both Tribes. The ride began on Sunday, June 7 in New Echota, Ga., the former capital of the Cherokee Nation, and is scheduled to end on Thursday, June 25 in Tahlequah, Okla.
The riders described their journey retracing the history through extreme heat, rugged and steep terrain, and the experiences with people who they encountered.
Joey Owle, an EBCI tribal member who completed the Removal Ride in 2013, stated, “The riders have had to work through some hot conditions, uphill, and downhill, all the while encouraging each other. There have been people who have stopped to pray for and with us to give us support. Then there have been some (people) who have not been as nice. Along with the historical points along the trail, the riders are getting a taste of how the Trail of Tears really was”.
Owle joins the Remember the Removal ride as part of the support team along with Cherokee Nations Ride Coordinator Joseph Erb.
“One of the greatest challenges facing our Tribal nations is educating ourselves and the world about the history, traditions, and culture of our people,” USET president Brian Patterson said on Friday. “This ride is one way we can get close to walking in the moccasins of our ancestors, to understand the trauma they experienced, and celebrate the legacy they left for us through their suffering and strong work to leave a place for the Cherokee to thrive. We send our prayers and medicine to the Remember the Removal riders on this day.”
Indian Health Service Nashville Area Office Area Director Martha Ketcher gave supporting words to the riders. “We support you and your dedication, as demonstrated by your participation in this event that honors and gives reverence to our ancestors by this Remembering the Removal Bike Ride. You put words into action by exemplifying and promoting healthy lifestyle activities that is indicative of the strength and resilience of our people. We pray for safe travels as you progress along the trail.”
Riders from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are Kelly Murphy, Jake Stephens, Corlee Thomas-Hill, Kevin Tafoya, Darius Thompson, Savannah Hicks, and Matt Martens. The riders from the Cherokee Nation are Charles “Billy” Flint, Tristan Trumbla, Kayla Davis, Haylee Caviness, Tanner Crow, Shawna Harter, Maggie McKinnis, Wrighter Weavel, Caleb Cox, Alexis Watt, Tennessee Loy, and Hailey Seago.
You can keep up with the riders and their progress on this year’s ride online at:https://www.facebook.com/removal.ride