‘Remember the Removal’ applications will be available Sept. 9

BY STAFF REPORTS
09/06/2019 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Applications for the 2020 “Remember the Removal” Bike Ride will become available on Monday, Sept. 9 and will be available through Friday, Oct. 11.

The list of required qualifications will be available with the application online at www.cherokee.org. Those interested should consider that training will begin in early December and includes physical training as well as culture and language classes every weekend, Saturday and Sunday, until the bike riders leave in late May. Participants must attend the required trainings and classes in Tahlequah in order to qualify.

“It’s a huge commitment but please consider applying. This journey tested me physically, mentally and emotionally, but it was so worth it. It has given me so many friendships and a support system that I never knew I needed and has helped me grow in so many aspects. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I would do it all again in a heartbeat if I could,” said 2019 RTR participant, Elizabeth Hummingbird.

The three-week bike ride in June spans about 950 miles between Georgia and Oklahoma, covering the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears. It teaches young Cherokee people ages 16 to 24 more about their culture and history as they cycle the same route their ancestors were forced to take in 1838 and 1839 to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma.

“If you are a young Cherokee who likes a challenge, who isn’t afraid to work hard and to test your perseverance, this is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about our culture and our history,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “I am certain that participants who bicycle across the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears will have a life-changing experience while honoring our ancestors and creating lasting memories.”

The Remember the Removal Bike Ride was created in 1984 as a youth leadership program. After a hiatus, the program was restarted in 2009. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians also joins the Cherokee Nation on the journey that begins in New Echota, Georgia.

“For three weeks over a span of many miles, participants of the “Remember the Removal” bike ride see where many historical events in Cherokee history took place,” said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “These young Cherokee cyclists will also be ambassadors for our tribe, sharing not only our story of removal, but our perseverance and our ability to adapt and thrive here in Oklahoma after removal. This will be an unforgettable experience for those chosen to participate.”

A mentor rider from the Cherokee Nation and participants from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians also take part in the ride.

The first Remember the Removal ride took place in 1984 when 20 Cherokee Nation cyclists left from Cherokee, North Carolina, in early June and traveled about 1,100 miles through seven states back to Oklahoma. The ride was taken to make people aware that the forced removal or “Trail of Tears” happened and to encourage the federal government to mark the trails Cherokee people took to get to Indian Territory.

The first ride was also organized for Cherokee youth to teach them leadership qualities, to give them confidence and improve their self-esteem. Through hardship of the ride they realized the strength and capabilities they possessed. Each year, the shared experience of climbing mountains and hills and fighting fatigue and heat creates a special bond for the cyclists.

The Northern Route travels through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Requirements to consider before submitting an application include:

• Applicant must be a Cherokee Nation citizen
• Be between the ages of 16-24 by Jan. 1, 2019
• Must not have previously participated in the ride
• Be able to pass a sport physical during post-selection orientation
• Must attend mandatory weekly training rides and history lessons.

The tribe will also take applications for a mentor rider. Requirements for the mentor rider include:

• Must be a Cherokee Nation citizen
• Be 35 years old or older as of Jan. 1 prior to the event
• Must not have previously participated as a Mentor Rider
• Must commit to riding the entire three-week bicycle ride
• Be able to pass a sport physical during post-selection orientation
• Must attend mandatory weekly training rides and history lessons

For more information or to apply, visit www.cherokee.org.

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