Muscogee (Creek) Nation Bikes the Trail of Tears
Many members of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation gathered at the Ocmulgee Indian mounds on Saturday morning to send off a member of their tribe on the first ever bicycle tour from Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon to their tribal headquaters in Okmulgee, OK.
John Beaver is a Muscogee (Creek) Nation descendant. He will bike the 850 mile Trail of Tears in the next few weeks. His journey will take him on the same path his ancestors walked when the United States Government forced them to relocate almost 200 years ago. The bike ride he will endure is to educate people about the removals that happened in the Southeast in the 1820's.
Before the bike ride started, Muscogee Principal Chief, George Tiger, and members of the National Council addressed the crowd about the significance of returning to the mother land of their people.
While it is a sad moment in history, Chief Tiger reminds the Muscogee people who came that this is an upbeat day.
“Today I feel to some degree the tears that are shed today are tears of joy because there is a reunion," Chief Tiger said. The reunion is the reconnection of the Creek nation’s ties to their ancestral homelands at Ocmulgee."
Beaver came up with the bike idea with Assistant Director for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Museum and Cultural Center, Justin Giles, a couple of months ago. They wanted to communicate culture through educational means and show that their tribe is still surviving.
“This is a recursion of our cultural presence in our ancestral homelands,” Giles said. “Muscogee people have not been extinct from this area, we were just removed. We never left, we were forced out. We are still here and continue to be a thriving culture today."
Another issue Beaver wants to bring awareness to are specific health risks present in Native Americans today." It's no big secret that cardiovascular disease and diabetes is a pretty strong high number in Native American communities,” Beaver said. “So we wanted to bring that to light and educate with that through this project."
Following the opening ceremony, cyclist in the Central Georgia area joined Beaver on the first leg of his journey. Beaver and the group biked to the county line, where from there he will continue to Okmulgee, Ok. He will be riding into Oklahoma later in June for the Okmulgee Creek Nation Festival.
There will be an update on his journey each day in a blog on the Muscogee Nation Mueseum website. To follow the journey, click the link on the bottom.