Friday, Jul 17, 2009
Eight young Cherokee cyclists who were retracing the 1838â1839 northern route of the Trail of Tears passed through Pea Ridge National Military Park on July 13th.
The âRemember the Removalâ ride started in New Echota, Georgia, on June 27th and ended on July 14th in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the capitol of the Cherokee Nation. During this more than 900-mile bike ride, the cyclists traveled from 40 to 70 miles per day, stopping daily to learn about things that happened along the Trail of Tears.
The Trail of Tears of the Cherokees took place over the winter months of 1838-1839. An estimated 16,000 Cherokees were forced by the U.S. to remove themselves and their families from their homes, farms and communities. After being held in federal stockades until deep winter, they were subsequently herded on overland and water routes that moved through territories that represent the present-day states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas. More than four thousand Cherokees died along the various routes from the harsh conditions of the crossing.
âRemember the Removalâ ride organizers hoped to promote awareness of these significant events as riders revisited areas where the journey took place. Other goals of the ride are to help educate Cherokee students about their tribeâs history and the difficulties associated with the Trail of Tears, and to promote the achievements of the modern Cherokee Nation to those along the route.
Over the past several years, park staff have restored over three miles of the historic road that was built in the 1820âs by the US Army and served as the thoroughfare between Springfield, Missouri, and Fort Smith, Arkansas. Currently known as the Telegraph Road, it served as a segment of the Trail of Tears, the 1858 Butterfield Overland Stage route (the first overland mail route), and a route for numerous Civil War troop movements, including those associated with the March 7-8, 1862, Battle of Pea Ridge.
Additional information on the Remember the Removal Ride can be seen at http://www.remembertheremoval.org