TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation is canceling the 2020 Remember the Removal Bike Ride in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made out of an abundance of caution.
The trek across seven states was initially scheduled to begin on June 1. Although the bike ride has been canceled, the nine Cherokee Nation cyclists who were selected to make the journey in 2020 will have first priority to participate in the 2021 program.
“The Remember the Removal Bike Ride is a tremendously important program for our Cherokee youth to learn the history and honor the legacy of their ancestors who endured some of the worst tragedy in the history of the great Cherokee Nation. There is not another life-changing opportunity like this ride,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “However, this year, with the threat of COVID-19, we simply cannot jeopardize the riders’ health and safety, nor that of our coordinators and all the volunteers who meet us along the Trail of Tears route. We understand this is disappointing, as our cyclists have spent months training both physically and mentally. They committed themselves to continuing this program’s legacy, and it is our hope that each one is able to participate next year. Our riders will be given first preference in 2021.”
The Remember the Removal Bike Ride is a youth leadership program that retraces the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears, beginning in New Echota, Georgia, the former capital of the Cherokee Nation, and ending in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the tribe’s modern-day capital.
The nearly 950-mile trek spans seven states including Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Participants retrace the same path their ancestors were forced to walk more than 180 years ago on the Trail of Tears.
The Remember the Removal Bike Ride was created in 1984 as a youth leadership program. The program was restarted in 2009 and in 2011 began to include cyclists from both the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
The ride will resume in 2021.