TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Applause and plenty of hugs welcomed home the five Cherokee woman who too on a 950 miles ride following along part of the Trail of Tears.
The Remember the Removal Bike Ride spans along the northern route of the Trail of Tears, beginning in New Echota, Georgia, former capital of the Cherokee Nation, and ending June 17 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the modern-day capital of the Cherokee Nation.
The northern route of the Trail of Tears spans through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
This year marks the first for the Cherokee Nation Remember the Removal bike ride team to be comprised entirely of Cherokee women.
Cyclists included Emily Christie, 24, of Stilwell; Kayce O’Field, 24, of Tahlequah; Jeanetta Leach, 23, of Rocky Mountain; Madison Whitekiller, 23, of Verdigris; and Desiree Matthews, 18, of Watts.
Before leaving, the cyclists had their family trees mapped out by a professional genealogist, providing insight into their ancestral past as well as connecting any family links they might share with one another.
During the trek, the cyclists retraced the path of their ancestors and visited several Cherokee gravesites and historic landmarks.
Of the estimated 16,000 Cherokees forced to march to Indian Territory in the late 1830s, about 4,000 died due to exposure, starvation and disease, giving credence to the name Trail of Tears.
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