FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 29, 2017
CONTACT Neely Tsoodle
P.O. Box 580
Okmulgee, OK 74447
24th Annual Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride Makes Final Stop at Claude Cox Omniplex
Approximately 25,000 – 30,000 bikers began the long journey from Waterloo, Alabama to Okmulgee
OKMULGEE, Okla. — On a beautiful sunny afternoon of Sept. 18, Anne Edwards, descendant of a Trail of Tears survivor, anxiously awaited the arrival of 17 bikers who traveled west from Waterloo, Alabama to both raise public awareness about the Drane/Hood Overland Route and to mark this specific overland Trail of Tears route that was in danger of being lost in history.
Wotko Long, member of Big Cussetah Church, opened the welcome reception with a Muscogee hymn. Melissa Moffer followed with the reading of the Lord’s Prayer in the Mvskoke language. Anne Edwards, MCN Historic and Cultural Preservation Tower Cell Notification System Coordinator, shared a story about her family’s experience with the Trail of Tears.
“My great, great grandmother survived the Trail of Tears,” said Edwards. “When she was three years old, her parents refused to leave their home and the soldiers shot and killed her parents, an older couple came along and picked her up as she was standing there crying and scared. This couple adopted her and moved her with them to Oklahoma. My mother passed this story down to me and I will pass it down to my son so that our family will never forget how we came here.”
In 1994, the first annual Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride was organized by the AL-TN Trail of Tears Corridor Association, Inc. (ATTOTCAI). Since the first ride in 1994, with Terry Sweet flying the flag on his bike from Ross Landing to Huntsville where the flag was transferred to Rod Wheeler’s bike for the ride from Huntsville to Waterloo; and when not carrying a flag, Terry Sweet, Bill Cason, Rod Wheeler, Jerry Davis, Rudy Rainwater, Greg Bass (Christian Motorcycle Association), Gary Kinney and two others riders were taking turns at road guard on the initial ride with Kenneth Campbell in his famous red pickup as ride support. The event has grown significantly since this first ride with 25,000 -30,000 bikers participating in this years ride.
ATTOTCAI has placed markers along the 230 mile highway route closely following the Trail of Tears removal route, with Trail of Tears Association (TOTA) placing markers on the actual historical foot trails and coincident roads used during the removal. The motorcycle ride visited the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in 2005 when the association placed a Historical Marker at the Creek Council House Museum in downtown Okmulgee.
The MCN Historic and Cultural Preservation Department presented a Pendleton blanket to Ike Moore, ATTOTCAI Vice-President. MCN National Council Speaker, Lucian Tiger, and Edwards presented the blanket to Moore on behalf of the Nation.
Kevan Hutto, ATTOTCAI Public Relations Coordinator, presented the Nation with a Trail of Tears flag and spoke of how the flag, completing the full journey twice, was flown on the back of his bike. “The flag is a little tattered and worn,” said Hutto. “However, it survived the trip just as many of those on the Trail of Tears did years ago.”
For more information, contact the MCN Historic and Cultural Preservation Department at 918-732-7733 or visit http://al-tn-trailoftears.net/ridehistory.php.