Cherokee cyclists retracing Trail of Tears on Remember the Removal Ride
By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
What better place to start a journey than the beginning? That’s exactly what the participants in the 2012 Remember the Removal ride did on Saturday, June 2.
The 23 cyclists, including seven from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, gathered at Kituwah with their friends, family and community for a kick-off celebration for the 900+ mile ride to Tahlequah, Okla.
Before departing, everyone present gathered at the Kituwah Mound and held hands in a show of unity and fellowship. Tom Belt, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and teacher of Cherokee Language at WCU, said a few words of encouragement and said a prayer for the safety and harmony of the riders.
Representing the EBCI on the journey are Carmen Johnson, Skye Littledave, Chi Shipman, Judy Castorena, Jeremy Wilson, Logan “Tatsi” Nelson and Jeremy Hyatt.
Littledave said meeting the riders from the Cherokee Nation was a great experience. “We’re just looking forward to the journey and looking forward to the experiences that we’re going to have and the educational stops along the way.”
Hyatt commented, “I am just incredibly excited. It’s been a long time coming – months and months of preparation. Our bodies are right. Our hearts are right and God willing, we’re going to have a safe and fantastic journey and it’s going to be a big adventure”
Brandon Stephens served as the emcee for Saturday’s event and said, “Something that was iconically a dark chapter in our history is now an icon of strength for the young people of today.
Principal Chief Michell Hicks welcomed everyone and spoke of unity between all Cherokee people at Kituwah, “This is a place of tranquility. This is a place to settle your mind, and you always know when you’re in a special place.”
“We’re excited for the bike riders and we’re excited for each one of you because it’s remembering and not forgetting, and I know our ancestors are looking down on us today proud as they could be about what we have accomplished as a people. We are survivors, strong people, proud people.”
Chief Hicks concluded by saying that he has great respect for the riders and that it’ll be a tough ride, but nothing they can’t handle. “Your Creator will pick you up. There will be prayers throughout the day, from this group and many others, as you make your journey.”
Dr. Anne Rogers, president of the North Carolina Trail of Tears Association, spoke briefly about the Trail and her organization, “We try to promote the fact that this is Cherokee homeland. This is the place where Cherokee started their lives and their history.”
Dr. Barbara Duncan, Museum of the Cherokee Indian, gave a brief history of the Trail of Tears and sang a song she composed entitled “They turned the Trail of Tears into a circle”.
For more photos from this event, visit the One Feather photo gallery at: