Oologah Man Completes Month-Long Walk Of Trail Of Tears
CHEROKEE COUNTY, Oklahoma - A young man from Oologah is finally taking a break after finishing a summer project for college.
For a month, Chance Fletcher has been following the Trail of Tears, walking from central Tennessee to Tahlequah.
We caught up with him for the last few miles, as he walked along Highway 62 into Tahlequah, finishing the journey that started on June 1, in Red Clay, Tennessee.
That's where one of his ancestors started west on a route that Fletcher decided he wanted to follow.
"I knew it was going to be a long journey, and I knew it was going to be tough at times," he said.
After being on the road all that time, sleeping in a tent for much of it, Fletcher said what was most striking was how welcomed he was as he followed the trail.
"Just people taking care of me was a big highlight of the trip," he said.
With plenty of time alone to think, he could just imagine how much worse it was for his ancestors.
Fletcher said, "There were people on the trip who didn't have shoes, and it was in winter, some of it. And I have all these conveniences, athletic clothing and shoes designed to run marathons.”
He walked his way through two pairs of those shoes, on his way to the Cherokee Courthouse. He was welcomed by family who couldn't be prouder of what he's done.
“I'm very proud of him,” Fletcher’s mom, Ann, said. “It was a long hard journey. It was hard on me because he was out there by himself, but I'm proud of him.”
"I think that it's sort of like something that connects me to my roots," Fletcher said.
Fletcher said he was ready to drop the backpack and get a good shower, but said he's glad to follow the path of his ancestors and get an idea of what they went through.