BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Visitors are riding to Northwest Arkansas to raise awareness of the history of Native Americans.
Two different groups are shedding light on the trail of tears.
“We’re hoping to continue to educate the public about that really dark part of history, and hope it’s never repeated again,” Kevan Hutto, Board Chairman for the Trail of Tears Committee said.
Riders arrived at the Museum of Native American History Monday afternoon as the final stop of the 25th Annual Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle ride.
For Hutto, this ride was personal. His grandfather was a full blooded Cherokee.
“I’ve been doing this for 24 years and it’s always been — the heat and stuff we endure a lot of times, that’s what I reflect. The hardships my ancestors went through when they made the trek cross country out to oklahoma,” Hutto said.
The Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride has followed the same route as more than a thousand Cherokee Indians removed under presidential mandate.
“A lot of times I get emotional when I’m riding the bike, because I think of the hardships the young children, the ladies with no shoes, the feet bleeding,” Hutto said.
Crossing paths at the museum — a group of three men riding over a thousand miles on horseback along the trail of tears route.
“We’re raising money and awareness for the white mountain Apache reservation in Arizona, and the Crow reservation in Montana. Both these tribes are struggling,” Len Crow said.
The funds are going towards training youth trades and skills to be able to find jobs off reservations.
“Number one problem is employment for a lot of our people,” Bennie Halwood, a Navajo Indian said.
Both groups are sharing a common mission of keeping history alive.
“I am a Native American and I feel, when I’m riding the horse, I feel what these people went through. Imagine people walking during the winter hungry and cold,” Halwood said.