By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
Sophomore Blake Henson is on a ride to remember— and remember he must.
Blake, 15, is joining riders from across northeast Oklahoma on the Remember the Removal Bike Ride. The Cherokee Nation sponsors this annual trek to remind young Cherokees of what their ancestors faced during the Trail of Tears. This year’s ride marks the 175th Anniversary of the removal.
He and 14 other Cherokee students left Thursday for New Echota, Ga. From there, they will bicycle along the northern route of the Trail of Tears, the forced removal of Cherokees to Indian Territory. Riders will go more than 950 miles through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
“I really just wanted to remember the history of the people,” Blake said.
A Cherokee Nation media release says that of nearly 16,000 Cherokees forced to make the journey to Indian Territory, 4,000 died due to starvation, exposure or disease.
During a send-off ceremony, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said riders will “come close to feeling what our ancestors felt.”
Riders provide their own bedding, toiletries and spending money. The Cherokee Nation provides meals, bicycles, gear and lodging.
Blake said he trained extensively for the ride.
“I got out of school around 2 p.m., and I rode a lot around the cemetery,” Blake said
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Cathy Spaulding
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