Remember the Removal bike riders and Remember the Removal Legacy Association board members

Current Remember the Removal bike riders and Remember the Removal Legacy Association board members pose for a photo at a recent meeting. From left, front row, are: Faith Springwater, Kenzie Snell, Mattie Berry, Libby Neugin, and Amaiya Bearpaw. Back row: Lillie Keener, Tasha Atcity, Shadow Hardbarger, Kayce O’Field, and Melanie Taylor.

To keep current and past Remember the Removal bike riders’ relationships intact, an association was created to make sure legacy riders stay in contact.

Tasha Atcity, board vice president for the Remember the Removal Legacy Association, said anybody who completes the Remember the Removal bike ride – a journey that retraces the forced trek their ancestors took on the Trail of Tears – becomes a member of the association. The yearly bike ride starts in New Echota, Georgia, and ends in Tahlequah, with several members of the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians participating.

Atcity said the ride often helps riders learn more about their culture and heritage, and it helps show the strength the riders’ ancestors had when making the trek across the Trail of Tears.

“[The association’s] main goal and purpose is to educate the community, [and] help others who are eligible to be a part of the ride understand what it is, what an honor it is, and how to participate in it so they can do the ride themselves,” said Atcity.

The group of legacy riders has about 250 members so far, and they all had to rely on their teammates at one time or another to push through and finish the journey.

“The ride is emotionally, mentally, and physically draining,” said Atcity. “You are learning things about the trail that you didn’t necessarily comprehend until you physically started going through the ride. Just to have your mind wrapped around what individuals had to go through to get to Oklahoma is very eye-opening, and on top of that, your body is exhausted.”

The 950-mile journey, Atcity said, has helped to create intense bonds among riders, but after the event, and when their lives return to their normal schedules, riders often don’t get that same day-to-day contact with their teammates.

“Really, just that support system [during the ride] makes that bond for you because you don’t want to leave that teammate behind, and so that’s really what brings that camaraderie together, as well as meeting up with the Eastern Band,” said Atcity.

Other members of a rider’s community might not have taken part in the ride, Atcity said, so the association helps keep the memory and experience alive for everyone, while also getting younger people involved and interested in the ride itself. Atcity hopes legacy riders keep their memories alive and continuously relive the strength they had while making the journey.

The legacy association helps keep these connections and friendships strong by hosting monthly and quarterly meetings, as well as a large meeting on the weekend of the Cherokee National Holiday. Atcity said the meetings allow for members to meet current and past riders and to share their experiences.

“It’s a really neat experience just to know there are people across Oklahoma and even out of the state who have participated in this ride that you’ll get to meet later on,” said Atcity.

React to this story:


Trending Video