Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, September 16, 2011

Chances are, that more likely than not, you’ve come here because you’ve searched for the term “Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride,” or similar terms.

What you’re about to read may either confuse, infuriate, or frustrate you. I sincerely doubt it will make you happy, or give you cause for rejoicing.

For many years, I have witnessed the ToT ride, and its humble origins which include Florence, Alabama. This year, as it has been since it’s establishment – it is held every 3d weekend of September – and will ride via U.S. Highway 72 originating from Chattanooga, Tennessee, through Huntsville, AL, and terminate in Waterloo, AL, which is located west of Florence, AL. Some riders will continue onto Oklahoma, which in recent years, has extended the trail ride.

As you may have noticed from the links on this blog, I enjoy photography as a hobby. I have done so for many years – since my youth, in in fact. I made my first photograph when I was but the tender age of three or four years of age. My photographic subject? My younger brother, trapped in his “play pen.” I could opine about that concept – the playpen – thought I shan’t bore you with it now. Suffice it to say that at the time, I recollect having feelings about being told “no, you can’t use the camera” by my parents (I secreted the camera away, and clandestinely made a photo, which they discovered when they had the film developed & pictures printed), of my brother, whom appeared to me as being behind a fence. They might as well have been gray steel bars, as far as I was concerned.

Nevertheless… you came here to read about the Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride.

It seems obvious and apparent that there has been some kind of infighting, fussing and fighting about this ride. That is indeed tragic. Following is what I have observed.

There are TWO sites claiming to be Trail of Tears rides. They are:




As I recollect – having purchased an embroidered, long-sleeve denim shirt some years ago at the event in McFarland Park in Florence, AL – the “Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride®” has the original logo, and the route they take is U.S. Highway 72, terminating in Waterloo, AL. http://www.al-tn-trailoftears.net/rideschedule.php

In stark contrast, the “Trail of Tears Remembrance Association’s Ride” avoids U.S. Hwy 72, taking a northern EAST/WEST route via U.S. Highway 41, through Tennessee. http://www.trailoftears-remembrance.org/ridemaps.html

Note also, both events have “Trail of Tears” in their name, though one calls itself “Commemorative,” while another calls itself “Remembrance.”

One takes a different route than the original U.S. Hwy 72 route – a northern EAST/WEST route via U.S. Hwy 41 – yet they both take a respite in Florence’s McFarland Park, and conclude in Waterloo, AL.

The “Remembrance” ride says this about the origin & history of the ride: “The Annual Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride began in 1994 by Bill Cason to mark one of the trails used during the 1838 removal of Native Americans from their homelands in the Southeast to Oklahoma. The ride started at Ross’s Landing in Chattanooga, TN with eight riders and ended with 100 riders in Waterloo, AL. TOTRAI’s ride has now grown to over 150,000 riders, making it the largest organized motorcycle ride in the world.

Mr. Cason, originator and leader of the Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride for the past 17 years, has chosen the Trail of Tears Remembrance Association, Inc. (TOTRAI) to assist in the management of the event beginning in 2007. The TOTRAI Board of Directors is made up of volunteers from Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, who have worked diligently over the years to make this ride a success. TOTRAI now proposes to assist the Five Civilized Tribes in the Southeast and Oklahoma through Native American scholarships and educating the public about the Trail of Tears Removal Act of 1838.

The “Commemorative” ride says this about the origin & history of the ride: “In the early 1990’s, Jerry Davis, of Scottsboro, Alabama, was researching Native American history surrounding his area.  He learned that the Trail of Tears removal had used a route passing along present-day  Hwy. 72.  He began talking with longtime friend, Bill Cason, of  Whitwell, Tennessee about what they could do to bring public awareness to this event.  Jerry felt that this route should be officially recognized and marked. Conversation after conversation took place.  One day Bill Cason, a motorcycle rider, suggested that the best way to he knew to get people’s attention was to have a bike ride.

Neither Bill Cason, nor Jerry Davis started this event by themselves; however Jerry Davis, being CEO and Founder of the Alabama Waterfowl Association (AWA) used AWA’s nonprofit status to sponsor the endeavor and AWA and his friendly relationship with the federal, state agency and officials necessary to start the Trail of Tears project.

It seems to me that the “Remembrance” ride folks are about the money and personal recognition, vis-à-vis 1.) the wording on their website “Always look for the “Official Merchandise” signs over the “Official Merchandise” tent at the end of the ride in McFarland Park,”2.) the wording “same great ride, same great ride leader” on their website, and 3.) the wording on their website “Remember the Trail of Tears Ride has left, on Saturday, from Chattanooga, TN for the past 17 years, no other Trail of Tears ride has done this!

And besides… isn’t it curious why one site would mention “no other Trail of Tears ride“?

To see this breaks my heart. It seems that there may be some disagreement, and over exactly what, I do not know. And though I could speculate, it would serve no purpose, so I shall refrain from such.

Just remember what it means and what it says about those whom seek power, glory and recognition.

The Alabama Indian Affairs Commission has an official PDF file on the Trail of Tears Ride, which is available for download here: http://aiac.alabama.gov/2011%20Trail%20of%20Tears%20Brochure.pdf

The 2011 brochure available from the Alabama Indian Affairs Commission states “This ride is recognized by the Alabama Indian Affairs Commission as the official Trail of Tears Route and was recognized by the Alabama legislature as Joint House Bill 95-346 and signed by the governor son 7-13-1995. Enclosed is what this event and ride was founded for, and why the 72 Highway Route though north Alabama was chosen and why ATTOTCA chose to Ride the Drane/Hood Overland Route as the “TRAIL OF TEARS COMMEMORATIVE MOTORCYCLE RIDE®.”

Nevertheless, it’s a genuine shame that two men can’t work together for the common good.

And so, I have but ONE THING to say to both these men:

STOP Your Foolishly Stupid Infighting, and UNITE FOR THE COMMON GOOD!!

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