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Cherokee Nation: Remember the Removal bike ride participants leave for North Carolina

The five Cherokee women left for Cherokee, North Carolina ahead of the 2022 Cherokee Nation Remember the Removal Bike Ride beginning May 30.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The 2022 Cherokee Nation Remember the Removal Bike Ride participants left for North Carolina for the bike ride that runs along the northern route of the Trail of Tears.

On Wednesday, May 25, a send-off ceremony was held at the Cherokee Nation W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah for the five participants before they left for Cherokee, NorthCarolina

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., Deputy Chief Bryan Warner and other C Council of the Cherokee Nation members joined the family, friends and co-workers of the five cyclists to send off the cyclist ahead of their weeks-long journey. The cyclists will join seven from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina later this week to train before their ride officially begins on May 30.

"Today, in 2022, there are still obstacles our people face, but there are also opportunities to seize. These five Cherokee women are going to lead us in the weeks ahead and in the years to come, and I couldn’t be prouder of each of them," Chief Hoskins said. "Strength and hope are still something we need in large measure and I believe this journey will bring those things to these five Cherokee women. We are thinking of them, praying for them, and supporting them along the way.”

This year marks the first for the Cherokee Nation Remember the Removal bike ride team is comprised entirely of Cherokee women. The cyclists include 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.

“Being a member of the Remember the Removal Ride is truly an honor. I have wanted to participate in this program for such a long time, and I am so grateful that I can honor my ancestors, learn more about my culture and hopefully inspire people to apply as well,” said Leach. “I am going to miss my family while I am gone, but I am very fortunate that I am able to return home after the journey.”

The Remember the Removal Bike Ride spans approximately 950 miles along the northern route of the Trail of Tears. The route begins in New Echota, Georgia, the former capital of the Cherokee Nation, and ends on June 17 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the modern-day capital of the Cherokee Nation. The route will take cyclists through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The cyclists also had their family trees mapped out by a professional genealogist to provide them insight into their ancestral past as well as connect any family links they might share with one another.

The cyclists will retrace the path of their ancestors during the journey and visit several Cherokee gravesites and historic landmarks. 

For more information on the Remember the Removal Bike Ride or to follow along during the journey, click here.

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