Remember the Removal participant Keeley Godwin leads riders and staff during a May 25 training ride near Tahlequah, Okla. Godwin and 12 other cyclists from the Cherokee Nation were expected to leave New Echota, Ga., on June 1 and travel nearly 1,000 miles along the northern route of the Trail of Tears and arrive on June 19 in Tahlequah. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Remember the Removal riders get special send off

The 2014 Remember the Removal cyclists who will retrace the northern route of the Trail of Tears are, from left to right, Chance Rudolph, Zane Scullawl, Charli Barnoskie, Madison Taylor, Noah Collins, Adriana Collins, Elizabeth Burns, Keeley Godwin, Kassidy “Tye” Carnes, Cassie Moore, Jamekah Rios, Jordan McLaren and Jacob Chavez. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The 2014 Remember the Removal cyclists who will retrace the northern route of the Trail of Tears are, from left to right, Chance Rudolph, Zane Scullawl, Charli Barnoskie, Madison Taylor, Noah Collins, Adriana Collins, Elizabeth Burns, Keeley Godwin, Kassidy “Tye” Carnes, Cassie Moore, Jamekah Rios, Jordan McLaren and Jacob Chavez. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
06/04/2014 08:33 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On May 28, 13 Remember the Removal bike riders and staff departed Tahlequah, officially beginning a three-week journey to retrace their ancestors’ path along the Trail of Tears.

Family and friends joined tribal leaders for a send-off ceremony at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex to wish the riders a prosperous journey and safe return.

The ride, which originated 30 years ago, is a leadership program allowing Cherokee students to get a glimpse of the hardships their Cherokee ancestors faced while making the same trek on foot in 1838-39.

Keeley Godwin, 21, of Welling, said she was inspired to take the challenge of riding nearly 1,000 miles along the northern route of the Trail of Tears because some of her friends had done it.

“I wanted to see as close as possible what it was like for them (ancestors) and what they went through, how they got here, and why I’m here,” she said.

The recent college graduate said she wants to complete something major in her life and the bike ride is it for her. She added that she wants to complete the ride to add to her successes and make her family proud.

“The first thing I’m excited about is actually getting to Cherokee (N.C.) and just having that moment to take in and realize this is where we came from and to travel and say ‘this is where they traveled, this is where they stayed.’ When I think about I get goose bumps,” she said.

The ride’s coordinator Joseph Erb, said education has been more of a focus for this year’s trip. On weekends, the participants attended a Cherokee history course before taking their training rides. And during the actual trip, the riders will have more contact with historians at stops along the route.

“So when they go to see these places, not only will they have been educated beforehand, but when they get there they will have another lesson about it,” he said. “We are also doing journals to talk about what they have learned. We also did their genealogy to actually tie the riders to the different locations so that’ll know their family history.”

Erb explored the northern route this past winter to see if it could be improved. He said the bicyclists were expected to travel 98 percent of the route Cherokee people used during the winter of 1838-39.

The 13 CN riders will meet six riders from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee, N.C., to train together. The 19 riders are then expected to travel to the capital of the old Cherokee Nation at New Echota, Ga., and leave there on June 1. During the ride, cyclists will have traveled seven states before ending the journey on June 19 in Tahlequah.

“A comprehensive genealogy was completed for every rider and staff making the trip. As they learn more about their own family, the universal Cherokee experience becomes much more personal for them,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “These riders will live out an exceptional experience over the next three weeks that will bond them forever. It is physically demanding and can be emotionally draining, but completing the trip will be a spiritual reward in and of itself. Just as our ancestors were 175 years ago, these young Cherokee people will be responsible for each other on this journey.”

This year marks the 175th anniversary of the arrival of the final group of Cherokees forced from their homes in Georgia and Tennessee and other southeastern states to what is now northeastern Oklahoma. Of the estimated 16,000 Cherokees forced to make the journey to Indian Territory, an estimated 4,000 died from exposure, starvation and disease.

“The Remember the Removal ride not only commemorates this important event in our people’s history, but it is an opportunity for our youth to learn more about our history,” EBCI Principal Chief Michell Hicks said. “Our riders are a true cross-section of our tribal community, and this experience offers a means for them to connect across generations and to learn from one another about our history.”

Rider Adriana Collins said Oklahoma history is “deficient” in informing students about the Trail of Tears, and her goal is learn more about the forced removal firsthand.

“I want to be able to have an opinion. I don’t think you should really be allowed to have an opinion if you don’t understand what happened or you don’t study what happened. So, to be able to have an educated opinion, I think I need to do this ride,” Collins said.

Along with Godwin and Collins, the CN riders are Charli Barnoskie, Cassie Moore, Noah Collins, Chance Rudolph, Jordan McLaren, Elizabeth Burns, Zane Scullawl, Madison Taylor, Jamekah Rios, Kassidy “Tye” Carnes and Jacob Chavez. The EBCI riders are Patricia Watkins, Richard Sneed, Ty Bushyhead, Kelsey Owl, Russell Bigmeat and Katrina Sneed.

Follow the riders at www.facebook.com/removal.ride or with the Twitter hash tag #RememberTheRemoval.
About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years.

News

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/24/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration is considering improvements on Highway 82 in Cherokee County that would begin near East Allen Road in Tahlequah and go north to near Gideon, according to reports. The meeting will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Jan. 27 in the University Center Ballroom at Northeastern State University. ODOT held a meeting in 2013 regarding the highway, and following that meeting the state performed studies on the corridor. ODOT officials said within that study they evaluated upgrading the existing highway. They plan to discuss their findings from the studies during the meeting. The meeting is open to the public and will be an open-house format. It will allow for some discussion with engineers and planners for the potential project. For more information, call Frank Roesler III at 405-521-2350 or email <a href="mailto: m-coordinator@odot.org">m-coordinator@odot.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/24/2015 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –The Cherokee Nation and the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation NAHASDA Annual Performance Reports are readily available for the public to view and to make comments upon. The reports are available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Jan. 27 at the Cherokee FIRST department located in the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex and in the lobby of the HACN office located at 1500 Hensley Drive in Tahlequah. <a href="http://www.cherokee.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=7G5FQptSBvE%3d&tabid=5274&portalid=0&mid=5878" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> the report.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
01/24/2015 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Businesses officials said before work on any site to be developed can begin they must do due diligence with regards to pre-development steps. Currently, that is where CNB officials area at on the Cherokee Springs Plaza project. Since the project’s September announcement, CNB officials said they have done several “behind the scenes” tasks in preparation for construction. From September to December, CNB officials said they met with Tahlequah officials to review city permit requirements, located all existing utilities and completed some infrastructure planning. They also they developed and posted a request for proposal for civil engineering work, completed the land survey for the site, as well as competed an aerial topography of the site for elevations and civil engineering design work. CNB Executive Vice President Charles Garrett said CNB officials selected a civil engineer in November for master planning and design and are conducting a traffic impact study that’s required prior to roads being designed or built. CNB officials said they also began civil engineering design of utilities, roads and temporary storm water, as well as identified what parts of the land would be submitted for a trust application. “(CNB) Developed, posted and selected a geotechnical firm to do a soils investigation report that is required by civil engineering for the design of foundations, utility and roads,” Garrett said. “In January we will be drilling 56 borings throughout the site. With the soil borings taking place, we will have the information required to develop a grading plan and start turning dirt to develop Phase I of the site.” In September, Garret said the first phase was establishing the infrastructure that creates access and provides the necessary utilities and the “civil engineering” portion of the project that would consist of road construction and pad sites where potential businesses will be developed. The continuation of the project will include two other phases, one being the construction of a new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah that will include a resort hotel, convention center and golf clubhouse. The third phase will create a retail strip, centering along Grand Boulevard, which will enhance the pedestrian and shopper experience. Overall, it is anticipated 1.3 million square feet of mixed-use space will be developed at an estimated cost of $170 million, officials said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/23/2015 04:00 PM
The Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board will be meeting via conference call at 9 a.m. CDT, February 6, 2015. To attend, please use the conference call information listed below. The meeting agenda is here. Dial-in: 866-210-1669 Entry code: 4331082 <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/1/8864_150205_EditorialBoard_Agenda.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> the meeting agenda.
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
01/22/2015 01:37 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Jan. 9, the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission approved a cutover plan that would allow Cherokee Nation Entertainment to operate its own simulcast signal through the tribe’s Will Rogers Downs Cherokee Casino. To operate the simulcasts, CNE previously contracted with the Oklahoma City-based Remington Park Dissemination Company. Simulcast is a simultaneous transmission of the same program on radio and television, or on two or more channels. The agreement between CNE and the Remington Park Dissemination Company was that Remington was to provide the off-track betting services at Cherokee Casino West Siloam Springs and Cherokee Casino Sallisaw. “There was a decision on Remington’s part that they wanted to exit that agreement, and in order to transition the services that Remington has provided up to this point over to a new provider, which in this case is going to be a company that is created by CNE and ran through Will Rogers Downs,” Jamie Hummingbird, CNGC director, said. Hummingbird said the plan is to take what the Remington Park Dissemination Company had been previously offering in terms of signal, wagering and reporting and put that over onto the new CNE company, Will Rogers Downs Dissemination. “So it’s taking the services that were provided by one company, transitioning them over to another one and providing for all of the transitional services that are required, primarily the redemption of any outstanding wagering that have not been redeemed prior to going to a Remington system to a WRD system,” he said. Like the Remington Park Dissemination Company, Will Rogers Downs Dissemination will also be providing totalisator equipment that controls parimutuel betting. “Will Rogers Downs Dissemination will just simply be doing the exact same thing Remington Park would,” CNE Chief Operating Officer Mark Fulton said. “When they informed us that they would not be renewing the contract to provide those services our decision became ‘do we want to keep our facilities or parlors open at West Siloam or Sallisaw?’ and ‘yes we do.’’ Because CNE will no longer be contracting with the Remington Park Dissemination Company, Fulton said Cherokee Nation Businesses, which is CNE’s parent company, would save some costs but not a lot because it isn’t a heavy volume of business. “We don’t have a heavy volume of business that utilize that so it was probably more of an administrative burden to them (Remington Park Dissemination Company) then the revenue they were generating,” he said. Fulton added that the creation of Will Rogers Downs Dissemination would not need CNB board approval. “The operating agreement is executed and falls within the authorities that already exist. It’s not a new entity for large revenue generation or profitability,” he said. Plans to have Will Rogers Downs Dissemination running are expected to be in mid-February.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/21/2015 10:00 AM
AKINS, Okla. – A meeting regarding the proposed Plains & Eastern Company transmission power line that would run from western Oklahoma through the state into Arkansas to Memphis will be held at 6 p.m., Jan. 27 at the Akins Community Center (Baptist Church). The community building is located about 4 miles north of Sallisaw. Organizers said the meeting is to inform and answer questions regarding the direct current or DC power line that, if constructed, would carry power generated by windmills in western Oklahoma to Tennessee. On Jan. 12, the Tribal Council approved a resolution opposing the construction of the transmission power line. The council voted unanimously against the 750-mile transmission line and is particularly opposed to the line running through Sequoyah County and is concerned it would affect Trail of Tears sites in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Organizers plan to have maps, printed material, petitions and handouts available at the meeting. For more information, call 918-315-0214 or 918-776-4320.