Motorcyclists from across the southeast will come together Sept. 21, 2019, for a scenic ride across the north Alabama region to honor Native American Indians. Now in its 26th year, the Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride travels from Bridgeport in the northeastern part of Alabama to the northwestern town of Waterloo, and along with the celebratory ride, there is a kick-off rally and a three-day POW WOW for the public to take part in. 

The Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride begins at the Alabama/Tennessee state line on U. S. Highway 72 in Bridgeport with riders departing at 8 a.m. CST on Saturday, Sept. 21.

The ride travels U. S. Highway 72 West to I-565 West arriving at Redstone Harley-Davidson at approximately 10:30 a.m. for an official ride rest and lunch stop. The public is invited to welcome riders while enjoying lunch and special entertainment. At 12 p.m., riders will depart and head west through Florence arriving in Waterloo at approximately 2:30 p.m. 

A kick-off rally offering children’s activities, live music, entertainment by Cherokee Indian dancers, a street dance, a fireworks show and other free family fun for the public to enjoy is scheduled in downtown Bridgeport on Friday, Sept. 20. Bikes will start arriving at 3 p.m. and the official opening ceremony gets underway at 3:15 p.m. 

The town of Waterloo will host a free POW WOW Sept. 20-22 in remembrance of all those who walked the Trail of Tears. Presented by the Alabama Indian Affairs Commission, the three-day event offers live music on Friday and Saturday nights, flute and drum music and displays from Native American artisans and vendors.

A River Walk Dedication Ceremony is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. to honor those who experienced the forced journey with the grand entry slated for 1 p.m. and bikes arriving around 2:30 p.m. 

The ride is held rain or shine. For more information on the Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride including a map of the route and a schedule of events, visit http://al-tn-trailoftears.net/rideschedule.php. 

The Indian Removal Act of 1830 called for the voluntary or forcible removal of all Indians from the eastern United States to the state of Oklahoma. 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's Landing in Chattanooga, Tennessee to what is now Waterloo, Alabama. Much of the journey followed what is now U.S. Highway 72.

Many Native Americans died in Waterloo and others escaped into the hills and 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. In recognition of this removal process, the first Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride was organized in 1994 with approximately 100 riders participating.

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