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950-Mile Bicycle Ride That Retraces Trail Of Tears Resumes In June

Remember The Removal Riders 2021.jpg
The 2021 Remember the Removal Bike Ride cyclists.

The Cherokee Nation announced last week that the annual Remember the Removal Ride, where participants retrace the Trail of Tears, will resume this June.

After taking a year off due to the pandemic, the 950-mile bicycle ride along the northern route of the Trail of Tears will go ahead with COVID-19 precautions in play.

All the participants have had their vaccinations and will be accompanied by trained medical staff along the ride.

Four cyclists and two mentors will participate in a ride that spans from Georgia to Tennessee, to Oklahoma. They began their training in 2019 and will cycle around 60 miles per day along routes used by their ancestors.

16,000 Cherokees were forced from their homelands in the southeast to Oklahoma, then known as Indian Territory in 1839 and 1840. An estimated 4,000 died due to starvation, disease and exposure. The ride is a way to honor those who lost their lives and uplift Cherokee culture

One of the riders is 21-year-old Melanie Giang of Claremore.

“To me, it means that I have been given such an honorable position in that we not only have the chance to learn about our ancestors, but that we also get the chance to retrace the Trail and reflect on the hardships that our people endured, so we can be better ambassadors for our people,” Giang said.

The 2021 Remember the Removal Bike Ride cyclists from the Cherokee Nation include:

  • Shace Duncan, 18, Stilwell
  • Whitney Roach, 22, Tahlequah
  • Melanie Giang, 21, Claremore
  • Kaylee Smith, 20, Tahlequah
  • Ronnie Duncan, 48, Stilwell, mentor rider
  • Tracie Asbill, 39, Tahlequah, mentor rider

All cyclists had their family tree done by a professional genealogist, which will connect them to the places they will visit along the ride.

To get updates and follow the riders, visit facebook.com/removal.ride.


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Allison Herrera is a radio and print journalist who's worked for PRX's The World, Colorado Public Radio as the climate and environment editor and as a freelance reporter for High Country News’ Indigenous Affairs desk.
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