The Cherokee Nation had 15 riders and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians had seven riders participate in the bike ride to retrace their ancestors’ footsteps along the northern route of the Trail of Tears.
The group ranged in age from 15 to 54 and started in New Echota, Ga., on June 3. They traveled across Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas before reaching the Courthouse Square in Tahlequah.
Marvel Welch, 54, of Cherokee, said she was amazed by the journey. “The energy that these kids have is just so unbelievable, and they helped me get to where I’m at right now,” Welch said, of her victory completing the ride.
The riders visited various gravesites and historic landmarks along the trail, including Blythe Ferry in Tennessee, which was the last piece of Cherokee homeland the ancestors stood on before beginning the trek to Indian Territory.