TAHLEQUAH, OK -- A group of Oklahoma bicycle riders are spending the month of June riding from Georgia to Oklahoma following the historic Trail of Tears.
The 10 riders will be taking part in the Remember the Removal bike ride.
The Cherokee Nation, which is sponsoring the annual ride, will send the riders off with a special ceremony in Tahlequah on Wednesday.
The ride itself is 1,000 miles.
The group will be riding from the original Cherokee homelands in Georgia and ending in Tahlequah, the capitol of the Cherokee Nation.
Organizers say the event provides participants with the chance to experience Cherokee history firsthand and follow in the footsteps of their ancestors. Last year's riders came away with a life-changing experience.
"There are three things you learn on this ride," said Todd Enlow, group leader of Cherokee Nation Leadership, who also organized and rode in the 2009 ride as a chaperone. "First, you learn Cherokee history by experiencing it yourself; second, you learn your own family history; and third, you learn your strengths and abilities to go beyond what you think you can do."
Enlow added that for the riders, learning their own family history makes the Cherokee history gleaned along the way very personal.
The riders will make stops along the way at specific points of interest from the Trail of Tears and will be provided with relevant history lessons to help make connections between the past and what the riders are currently experiencing.
The ride itself will take 20 days.
The Cherokee Nation is supplying riders with a bike, riding gear, meals, transportation and lodging.
This year's riders include students ages 16 to 36.
The Trail of Tears of the Cherokees took place over the winter months of 1838 through 1839.
An estimated 16,000 Cherokees were forced at gunpoint to remove themselves and their families from their homes, farms and communities.
More than four thousand Cherokees died along the various routes from the harsh conditions of the crossing.
Ride organizers of Remember the Removal hope to promote awareness of these significant events as riders re-visit the areas where the journey took place.