Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride

Each year beginning in September and running through the first of October, motorcyclists come together to commemorate a dark chapter in our nation’s history: the forced removal of Native Americans from their eastern homelands, known as the Trail of Tears.

Despite the fact that Thomas Jefferson often cited the Iroquois Confederacy’s Great Law of Peace as the model he used to write the United States Constitution, many early settlers considered the Native Americans savages at best. By the early 1830s, this opinion coupled by pioneers' thirst for more farmland and gold fever brought on by the discovery of the shiny metal in northern Georgia in 1828 led then-president Andrew Jackson to enact the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

This new law gave the federal government the authority to negotiate treaties with Native Americans to swap their lands east of the Mississippi River for land in the newly designated “Indian colonization zone," now the State of Oklahoma.

Under this law, the treaties were to be negotiated “fairly, voluntarily and peacefully." As has often happened in the name of expedience, the letter of the law was all but completely ignored, and in 1831, under threat of attack by the United States Army, the Choctaw Nation became the first tribe to be completely removed from its ancestral lands. Removal, both voluntary and coerced, continued for most of the 1830s and culminated in the breaking of the Cherokee Nations resistance in the southern Appalachian Mountains and the forced march to the territories in 1838.

Due to the lack of records at the time, a true death toll for all of the 125,000+ who made the march has never been calculated, but it is estimated that 25 percent of the 15,000 to 16,000 Cherokee who began the journey never arrived in the “Indian colonization zone." That is the story behind the Trail Of Tears.

In honor of those who suffered through this ordeal each year the AL-TN Trail of Tears Corridor Association Inc. (ATTOTCAI), an all-volunteer IRS recognized 501c3 tax-exempt charitable organization, hosts what has become the single largest organized motorcycle run in the country.

Though many argue that the trail should begin in Chattanooga, TN, the officially recognized route begins in present-day Waterloo, Alabama, where the Cherokee detention camps were located. From there, the ride follows the historical trail of tears route and culminates with a flag ceremony in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. While no records can be obtained as to the total number of riders who join for individual sections of the ride, it is estimated that over 25,000 motorcycles travel the entire route each year. Proceeds from donations and the selling of memorabilia are used to establish and document important sites along the route and to sponsor Native American Scholarships.

When asked why it was so important to keep the memory of the Trail of Tears alive, Florida personal injury attorney Brad Sinclair had this to say, “While there were undoubtedly many extra-judiciary actions taken, on the whole, this entire dark chapter of our country’s history was done under the auspices of the law. As a nation and especially for officers of the court, such as myself, it is important for us to remember that legal and right aren’t always the same thing. We have to be very careful in what laws we allow to be passed and always be conscious of their possible results.” Brad continued, “The needs of the many may outweigh those of the few, but forgetting the rights of the few are what leads to events like this.”

Contact Info:
Name: Scot Small
Email: Send Email
Organization: Sinclair Law
Address: 5465 N US Highway 1 Melbourne FL 32940
Phone: 1888-722-1974

Release ID: 249628