Friday, September 14, 2012

2012 Trail of Tears Ride Saturday in Alabama

The Trail of Tears Rememberance Ride: More than 150,000 motorcycle riders now participate in the original 225 mile ride from historic Ross's Landing in Chattanooga, Tennessee to attend a Native American Festival PowWow at McFarland Park in Florence, Alabama that commemorates the forced relocation of American Indians in the 1830's from the Southeast to reservations in Oklahoma.

This is a pretty nice video of some of the bikes in the Trail of Tears Ride, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012.

Riders also start from Bridgeport, Alabama early Saturday and travel east along Highway 72 through Madison County, with a one-hour stop in Huntsville. The 19th annual Trail of Tears ride entered Madison County, Alabama on Highway 72 east at Gurley around 9:30 am. and  continued west into Huntsville between 9:45 and 10:15 a.m.

The riders were entertained at the Old Time Pottery shopping center on Madison Boulevard and continued the ride at 11:30 a.m, traveling west on Highway 72 to Athens and on to Florence and Waterloo.

In recent years, the ride has expanded to include an optional 4-day ride to the reservation in Oklahoma. For some American Indians it was a walk of 800 miles and a journey of three months without food or water. Many suffered from the elements, starvation and disease. More than 4,000 Cherokees and countless other Indians died along the way. Photographer Kelly Roper Gillespie joins many of her Native American family for this ride. "This truly is one event your soul feels clean leaving from," she said in a feature story interview.


The ride was started in 1994 by Bill Cason of Whitwell, Tennessee in an effort to have the historic route recognized. "It started out, I just wanted to make enough money to put a sign up on the highway," Cason said in a video interview.

Click map to enlarge for details.
The event has supported the placement of hundreds of signs marking the "Trail of Tears" along a 4-day ride route that traces the forced Indian relocation to Oklahoma. More than $230,000 has been donated to scholarships for Native Americans. Click here <-- Details.