This June, six cyclists from the Cherokee Nation will participate in the bike ride that retraces an estimated 950 miles along the northern route of the Trail of Tears by bicycle. This is also the first year for the team to be comprised entirely of Cherokee women.
2022 Remember the Removal Bike Ride cyclists are:
- Emily Christie, 24, Stilwell
- Kortney Dry, 24, Tahlequah
- Kayce O’Field, 24, Tahlequah
- Jeanetta Leach, 23, Rocky Mountain
- Madison Whitekiller, 23, Verdigris
- Desiree Matthews, 18, Watts
The ride will span from Georgia to Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma taking place over nearly three weeks. The cyclists will average around 60 miles a day along the same routes used by Cherokee ancestors, who made the same trek by foot more than 180 years ago.
“It is a huge honor to have been selected for the 2022 RTR bike ride and to be able to retrace the steps of my ancestors,” Kayce O’Field said. “I’ve already learned so much about myself and where I come from. It is a humbling experience. I am extremely grateful for my team and for the resiliency of where we come from. The knowledge that I have learned thus far, and will continue to learn on the ride, is something special I will keep with me for the rest of my life. I am truly honored and blessed for the opportunity to represent my family, my tribe, and my ancestors.”
Participants were selected based on an essay, in-person interviews and a physical, to ensure they are up for the challenge. The group began training in December 2021 by spending weekends undergoing physical training and cycling on various routes throughout the Cherokee Nation Reservation. The cyclists also had their family trees mapped out by a professional genealogist, to provide insight into their ancestral past and connect any family links they might share with their teammates.
During the bike ride, the cyclists will visit several Cherokee gravesites and historic landmarks, including Blythe Ferry in Tennessee. The Cherokee Nation cyclists will also be joined by seven cyclists from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina. The cyclists will start the ride together in New Echota, Georgia, the former capital of the Cherokee Nation, on May 30.
For more information on the upcoming Remember the Removal Bike Ride or to follow along during the journey, click here.
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