TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- The 2016 Remember the Removal Bike Ride cyclists are expected to roll into Woodbury today (Wednesday, June 8) as they continue their three-week journey retracing the northern route of the Trail of Tears.
The eight Cherokee Nation cyclists joined seven cyclists from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee, N.C.. The group began their ride together in New Echota, Ga, on June 5.
"These young men and women will travel along the same path their ancestors traveled. They will learn incredible lessons in Cherokee tribal history, as well as teamwork and personal perseverance. This is one of the most unique and challenging leadership development programs that I could imagine," said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. "I am so proud these eight individuals are undertaking the challenge the next few weeks will surely provide. As they ride from New Echota to Tahlequah, they will stop at historical Cherokee landmarks and gain a better grasp of the strength and courage our ancestors had in order to survive the Trail of Tears."
The bicycle 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.
In the summer of 1838, Cherokees were rounded up and forced from their homes in Georgia, Tennessee and other southeastern states to the tribe's current capital in Tahlequah, Okla. 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. The riders will travel across seven states before ending the 950-mile journey in Tahlequah on June 23.
"The opportunity to participate in the Remember the Removal Bike Ride is amazing," said 2016 Remember the Removal cyclist Kylar Trumbla. "I've never had the chance to spend the time with other Cherokees learning about our people, so to be able to take this journey mentally and physically and learn about the culture and language of the Cherokee people is an honor."
warded to the Remember the Removal Bike Ride from the U.S. National Park Service, cyclists will also promote the national parks along the trail.
For the first time since the program began, participants will receive three hours of college credit from Northeastern State University after completion of the ride.
The riders from Cherokee Nation are Kylar Trumbla, Amicia Craig, Stephanie Hammer, Nikki Lewis, Kelsey Girty, Blayn Workman, Amber Anderson and Glendon VanSandt.
The riders from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are Marissa Cabe, Cole Saunooke, Tom Hill, Tosh Welch, J.C. Arch, Jake Cooper and Aaron Hogner.
Follow the cyclists along the journey at www.facebook.com/removal.ride or with the Twitter hashtag #RememberTheRemoval.
The cyclists will travel through the following cities and states during these dates:
June 5 - New Echota to Cleveland, Tennessee
June 6 - Cleveland to Dayton
June 7 - Dayton to Pikeville
June 8 - Pikeville to Woodbury
June 9 - Woodbury to Nashville
June 10 -Nashville to Hopkinsville, Kentucky
June 11 - Hopkinsville to Golconda, Illinois
June 12 - Golconda to Cape Girardeau, Missouri
June 14 - Cape Girardeau to Farmington
June 15 - Farmington to Steelville
June 16 - Steelville to St. Robert
June 17 - St. Robert to Lebanon
June 18 - Lebanon to Springfield
June 20 - Springfield to Cassville
June 21 - Cassville to Springdale, Arkansas
June 22 - Springdale to Stilwell, Oklahoma
June 23 - Stilwell to Tahlequah