MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – Thousands of motorcycles rolled into Madison on Saturday for the 29th annual Trail of Tears Commemorative Ride.
“I think it goes back to the horse and carriage,” said American legion Post 229 Commander Larry Vannoy. “Now our steeds are motorcycles.”
Riders from across the country gather in Alabama on the third Saturday of September each year to remember the forced journey thousands of Native Americans took because of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The North Alabama portion of the ride stretches from Bridgeport to Waterloo and commemorates the trail five Native American tribes followed when they were forced to leave the state.
“There’s a lot of emotion for me and for the guys that ride this because they have ancestors that were removed or that are Native American,” said Ike Moore, the Alabama/Tennessee Trail of Tears Corridor Association President.
The commemorative ride attracts families and bikers of all ages. Organizers said they are trying to educate future generations and keep the stories of past generations alive.
“This is history that does not need to be forgotten,” said Vannoy. “That is why we do this to commemorate that and make sure everybody remembers that. Those generations are gone that were actually relocated, but at the same time, we need to remember what we did to Native Americans and recognize them for the sacrifices they made.”
Before their journey ends in Oklahoma, ride organizers said they expect more than 60,000 bikers to join. In past years, the lines of bikes has stretched for more than 25 miles.