Meet the EBCI Riders Retracing the Trail of Tears on Bicycle | Cherokee, NC

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Meet the EBCI Riders Retracing the Trail of Tears on Bicycle

Seven members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) will retrace the northern route of the Trail of Tears on bicycle, traveling 950-miles from New Echota, Georgia to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, as part of the upcoming Remember the Removal ride.

The 2022 riders, shown above, from left to right are: former Vice Chief Larry Blythe, Amy West, Justin Lambert, Bubba Aguilera, Ethan Ledford, Emra Arkansas, and Laura Blythe.

The Remember the Removal (RTR) bike ride is an annual event that occurs every June, and is hosted by the Cherokee Nation and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The EBCI RTR ride is hosted under the EBCI Cherokee Choices program.

The ride commemorates Cherokees who were forcibly removed from their homeland and made to travel on foot to what is now Oklahoma, between 1838 and 1839. 

As part of the Remember the Removal experience, participants take classes in Cherokee language, Cherokee history, and genealogy to uncover and connect with their roots. 

A Re-Do and a Father-Daughter Duo

Four of the 2022 riders were previously selected for the 2020 ride, which was canceled due to COVID-19. Now, two years later, Ledford, Laura Blythe, and Arkansas, will finally get to see it through. 

Laura Blythe, age 39, from the Painttown Community, (pictured second from right, above) looks forward to sharing this year’s ride with her father, the former Vice Chief Larry Blythe, age 67, (pictured far right, above) from the Birdtown Community.

“To be able to share it with my father is something I didn’t expect,” Laura shared with the Cherokee One Feather. “It’s kind of mind-blowing. But, I’m looking forward to it.”

“He’s my hero in life, he’s my mentor, and he’s done great things in the community. I think it’ll just be great for our family in general for us to go through this—the bonding experience that we can get knowing that we can make it through.” 

Larry shared with the Cherokee One Feather: “She’s the one that got me on the bike. Of course, she’s always been one of my biggest supporters and sometimes one of my biggest critics."

“Certainly, 180 years ago, families—fathers and daughters and mothers were together in different circumstance, but still having to rely on each other, encourage each other, pray with each other—all those things that we still have to do today as a people and families, too, to continue to be strong.”

The Remember the Removal ride send-off ceremony is Friday, May 27, at 5 pm at Kituwah Mound. 

Follow the Journey

To keep up with the EBCI and Cherokee Nation riders, and to follow their progress, follow EBCI Remember the Removal Riders and Remember the Removal Bike Ride on Facebook, and ebci_rtr on Instagram. 

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