The Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride will travel across North Alabama on Sept. 16. At approximately 10:30 a.m., Madison American Legion members will sell merchandise at the official stop at Madison Harley-Davidson, 15100 Ala. Hwy. 20 W. in Madison. CONTRIBUTED

Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride set for Sept. 16

MADISON – Motorcyclists from across the United States will converge in North Alabama as part of the Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride on Sept. 16, the event’s 30th anniversary.

Riders travel from Bridgeport in northeast Alabama to Waterloo in northwest Alabama. The scenic ride across North Alabama honors Native American Indians who were all voluntarily or forcibly moved by the U.S. Government from the eastern United States to Oklahoma. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 required the dispersal.

Along with ride, the town of Bridgeport will host a kickoff rally on Sept. 15, along with a three-day Indian Festival in Waterloo for the public.

“Our post, Madison American Legion, Post 229 will be part of the ‘Spirit of America’ presentation to a Native American military veteran,” Post 229 Commander Larry Vannoy said. “This year, the award will go to T.C. Dawson, a veteran of the Vietnam War who is heavily involved in the veteran community.”

“Native Americans have made countless contributions to our nation’s freedoms, in particular, serving in our armed forces,” Vannoy said.

On Sept. 16, the ride will begin at 8 a.m. at the Alabama/Tennessee state line off U. S. 72 in downtown Bridgeport. The route will follow U.S. 72 W. to I-565 W. in Huntsville and arrive at Redstone Harley-Davidson, 15100 Ala. Hwy. 20 W. in Madison, at approximately 10:30 a.m. for an official rest and lunch stop, including special entertainment. The public is invited to welcome riders. At noon, riders will continue to Florence and arrive in Waterloo at approximately 2 p.m.

Waterloo will host a free festival on Sept. 15-17 in remembrance of all people who walked the Trail of Tears. Presented by the Alabama Indian Affairs Commission, the three-day event will offer live music, flute and drum music and exhibits and displays from Native American artisans and vendors.

American Legion, Post 229 will sell Trail of Tears T-shirts and other ride-related merchandise at Madison Harley-Davidson “as a fundraiser for both the ride and our post, which we have done for 20-plus years,” Vannoy said.

On Sept. 17, the ride will continue to Tahlequah, Okla. from Spring Park in Tuscumbia. The ride is held, regardless of weather.

In 1838, the U.S. government hired wagon master J.C.S. Hood to transport 1,070 Native Americans by foot and wagon from Ross’ Landing in Chattanooga, Tenn. to (current-day) Waterloo.

Many Native Americans died in Waterloo. Others escaped into the hills; today, area residents can trace their Native American ancestry to those who fled.

As many as 4,000 deaths occurred because of this forced removal of civilized Native Americans from their rightful homes. To recognize these action, the first Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride was organized in 1994 with approximately 100 riders. The ride has grown to 15,000-plus riders annually.

For more information, including a route map and an events schedule, call 678-743-3868; email ikemooretot@gmail.com; or visit trail-of-tears.webflow.io/the-ride/this-years-ride; Facebook/Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride; or Twitter #ridetot, #trailoftears, #totmotorcycleride and #30yearsthetraditioncontinues.

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