The Remember the Removal Ride is a grueling 950- bicycle ride from New Echota, Ga. to Tahlequah, Okla. that retraces the footsteps taken by Cherokee people on the Trail of Tears. In June, members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will once again team up with the Cherokee Nation from Oklahoma and bike this long journey our ancestors once walked.
Seven EBCI tribal members have been selected for the 2013 ride including: Joseph Owle, Gerri Grady, Elias Huskey, Marvel Welch, Kate Cooper, Dakota Brown and Tighe Wachacha.
Joseph Owle, son of Joseph and Sandy Owle of Birdtown is a student at N.C. State and stated that he would like to participate in this bike ride to be part of something larger than one individual and knows that this experience will be a defining event in his life.
Gerri Grady, daughter of Jeremiah and Juanita Wolfe of Yellowhill and a Tribal employee stated, “That this bike ride will bring an intimacy to our people, ourselves, and our relatives in Oklahoma.”
Elias Huskey, son of Keahana Lambert and a senior at Swain High School commented that, “This is a once in a life time opportunity for me to experience and live through something my Ancestors had to live through. It will enrich and alter my life.”
Marvel Welch of Wolfetown, daughter of Isaac and Judith Welch, said, “Experiencing the “Remember the Removal Ride, I would gain a sense of understanding of ‘who I am.’”
Kate Cooper, a sophomore at Smokey Mountain High School and daughter of Casey and Jill Cooper of Birdtown, said, “I want to do this bike ride because being able to trace the footsteps of my ancestors and thinking about how they felt while making this journey on foot would be the most amazing and powerful experience I could ever imagine. You can read about the trail, and listen to stories about it, but no story will ever do it justice.”
Dakota Brown, a student at Southwestern Community College and daughter of Cherokee County – Snowbird Rep. Diamond Brown and Sandy Brown, commented, “I want to go on this trip so, in many ways, I can feel a piece of what our ancestors did. I also do not know how people in the Cherokee Nation view the Trail of Tears, and it would be great to understand their perspective.”
Tighe Wachacha, co-director of Twin Path Productions and son of Arnold and Mary Wachacha of Yellowhill said, “I love the idea of sharing and experiencing a piece of our amazing Cherokee History. I believe that this ride would help in all aspects of my life by teaching leadership, teamwork and most of all respect for all of my ancestors that came before me.”
The trip takes three weeks to complete with 60-75 miles of biking everyday regardless of weather conditions.
– EBCI Health & Medical