TAHLEQUAH — The 2019 Remember the Removal Bike Ride cyclists will reunite with their friends and family on Thursday in Tahlequah after a three-week journey riding their bicycles to retrace the steps of their ancestors along the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears.
A return ceremony is being held at 11 a.m. at the tribe’s Peace Pavilion, 177 S. Water Ave., Tahlequah, to welcome the riders home, to honor their accomplishments and to award medals. Oklahoma Secretary of Native American Affairs Lisa J. Billy will also present a proclamation on behalf of Gov. Kevin Stitt declaring “Trail of Tears Remembrance Week” and recognizing the 35th anniversary of the inaugural bike ride in 1984. Governors of Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas made similar proclamations when cyclists rode through their respective states.
The riders started their journey in New Echota, Georgia, on June 2, and traveled around 60 miles per day across Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas before ending their 950-mile journey in Tahlequah, the end point of the Trail of Tears.
Throughout the ride, cyclists visited historic sites significant to the Trail of Tears. Many of the states along the route included important landmarks such as the original Cherokee Nation capital at New Echota, Georgia, and Blythe Ferry, Tennessee, home of the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park, where riders located the names of their ancestors who walked the Trail. Cyclists also visited Mantle Rock in Kentucky, which provided shelter for Cherokees while they waited for safe passage over the frozen Ohio River.