Cherokee Cyclists Ride Trail Of Tears Through Northwest Arkansas

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PEA RIDGE (KFSM)-- About 20 cyclists rode through Northwest Arkansas Tuesday (June 20) on their journey to retrace a Trail of Tears route.

Each rider is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and had to go through an application process to ride.

Every person had their own reasons for wanting to be a part of this ride.

Most wanted to get an idea of what their ancestors went through.

“Six months ago, I recently moved home from the military," rider Israel Rodriguez said. "So, I felt like it was a better way of getting to understand what our ancestors went through.”

Their route took them through multiple states including Kentucky and Missouri.

During the nearly 900 mile journey, they stopped at historical locations connected to the removal.

Raven Girty said Mantle Rock in Kentucky hit her the hardest.

“All I could imagine was that was my grandma leaned up against that rock just struggling or that was my little cousins," Girty said. "Just it really hit home because I mean that was my family.”

For Rodriguez, the one thing that hit him the most is knowing what the American military did to his ancestors back in the late 1830s.

He said he is still proud to have served in the military and is proud of his tribe.

Their journey started June 4 and they plan to be back home in Tahlequah, Oklahoma on Thursday.

“It’s just now starting to get real, I guess that we’re going home," Girty said. "I’ve been really homesick the past two days and so I’m ready to ride into Tahlequah on Thursday and just see all my family and it’s just going to be awesome.”