Motorcyclists from across the southeast are gearing up for an extraordinary event that pays tribute to the Native American Indians who once traversed the lands of north Alabama. The highly-anticipated 30th annual Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride is set to take place on September 16, starting from Bridgeport in northeastern Alabama and concluding in Waterloo in the northwest.
The highly-anticipated 30th annual Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride will happen on September 16. It starts from Bridgeport in northeastern Alabama and ends in Waterloo in the northwest.
The event kicks off at 8 a.m. on Saturday, September 16, at the Alabama/Tennessee state line on U.S. Highway 72 in downtown Bridgeport. Riders will embark on a scenic journey along U.S. Highway 72 West towards I-565 West.
They will make a stop at Redstone Harley-Davidson in Madison around 10:30 a.m. for a rest and lunch break before continuing their ride westward. The riders are expected to arrive in Waterloo at approximately 2:30 p.m., marking the conclusion of this special commemorative ride.
In addition to the ride itself, participants and visitors can look forward to exciting festivities surrounding this significant occasion. On Friday, September 15, downtown Bridgeport will come alive with a kick-off rally featuring children’s activities, live music, a street dance, and an awe-inspiring fireworks show.
Bikers from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian Reservation will make their entrance at 3 p.m., setting the stage for the official opening ceremony at 5 p.m. The evening continues with captivating musical performances by renowned artist John Stone and the Trailer Park Allstars at 6 p.m., followed by another electrifying show after the fireworks display.
Notably, the town of Waterloo will host a free Indian Festival from September 15 to September 17 as part of their remembrance efforts dedicated to all those who subjected to the brutal Trail of Tears journey. Organized by the Alabama Indian Affairs Commission, this three-day event promises an enriching experience for all attendees.
Visitors can enjoy live music on Friday and Saturday nights, witness a living history soldier encampment on both days, and explore the diverse displays presented by Native American artisans and vendors. Additionally, a memorial walk has been scheduled on Saturday, September 16 at 10 a.m. to honor those who endured the arduous forced journey.
The Town of Waterloo kindly requests a $5 donation for all four-wheel vehicle parking at the South boat ramp area during the festival. It is important to note that this ride takes place regardless of weather conditions, ensuring that its historical significance and tribute remain undeterred.
The Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride holds tremendous significance in commemorating one of the darkest periods in American history: the Cherokee “Trail of Tears.” In 1838, as part of the Indian Removal Act, Native Americans were forcibly uprooted from their ancestral homes and relocated to Oklahoma.
The initial removal took place from Ross’s Landing in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with J.C.S Hood leading Native Americans by foot and wagon through what we now know as U.S. Highway 72. Tragically, countless lives were lost along this painful journey, with many perishing in Waterloo or seeking refuge in nearby hillsides.
Today, descendants can trace their Native American heritage back to those brave souls who managed to escape. In recognition of these tragic events and as a means of honoring their memory, the first Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride was organized in 1994 with around 100 riders participating.
For more information about this remarkable event and its schedule of activities, interested individuals can visit al-tn-trailoftears.net/ or connect on Facebook at facebook.com/trailoftearsmotorcycle.
This annual commemorative motorcycle ride symbolizes unity among communities as they pay homage to the Native American Indians and their enduring spirit throughout history. It stands as a testament to the strength of humanity in acknowledging past struggles and fostering understanding for future generations.