After traveling nearly 1,000 miles retracing their ancestors’ footsteps along the northern route of the Trail of Tears, the 2016 Remember the Removal Bike Ride cyclists will complete their journey Thursday, June 23, arriving in Tahlequah to family and friends.
The Remember the Removal Bike Ride return ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. at the Cherokee Nation Courthouse Square, 101 S. Muskogee Ave. In case of inclement weather, the return ceremony will be held at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Building, 100 N. Water Ave.
The riders averaged 60 miles per day, starting in New Echota, Ga., on June 5, and traveled the Trail of Tears route across Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas to end at the Cherokee National Courthouse in downtown Tahlequah. Riders will return to a celebration on the square, praise from tribal leaders and awarded medals.
Along the route, the riders visited various gravesites and historic landmarks significant to the history of the Trail of Tears, including Blythe Ferry in Tennessee, which was the last piece of Cherokee homeland the ancestors stood on before beginning the trek to Indian Territory. Riders also visited Mantle Rock in Kentucky, which provided shelter to Cherokees as they waited for the Ohio River to thaw in order to cross safely, and stopped to pray at Shellsford Cemetery in Tennessee, where Cherokees who died on the route are buried in unmarked graves.
This year’s cyclists include the following from the Cherokee Nation: Amicia Craig, 24, Tahlequah; Stephanie Hammer, 24, Tahlequah; Nikki Lewis, 23, Tahlequah; Kelsey Girty, 21, Warner; Amber Anderson, 23, Warr Acres; Kylar Trumbla, 23, Proctor; Blayn Workman, 16, Muldrow; and Glendon VanSandt, 16, Siloam Springs.
Cyclists from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians were: Marisa Cabe, 49, Wolfetown, North Carolina; Cole Saunooke, 16, Yellowhill, North Carolina; Tom Hill, 57, Yellowhill, North Carolina; Tosh Welch, 38, Wolfetown, North Carolina; J.D. Arch, 49, Wolfetown, North Carolina; Jack Cooper, 15, Birdtown, North Carolina; and Aaron Hogner, 31, Wolfetown, North Carolina.
The Cherokee Nation also had Cherokee Nation citizens Stacy Leeds, Dean of Law at the University of Arkansas, ride as a historian; Vietnam veteran Sammy Houseberg ride as an ambassador; and Kevin Jackson ride as a Cherokee Nation marshal and trainer.