recap of the 2021 28th annual trail of tears commemorative ride

the history of the ride

How it began

It all began in 1994 with 8 motorcycle riders and an idea. They would make the trip across North Alabama to retrace the approximate route by which many thousands of Native Americans were brutally forced from their homes, stripped of their belongings, and herded westward to reservations. More than 4,000 died of starvation, disease and exposure along the way. History remembers it as the Trail of Tears. From its earnest beginnings in 1994 the ride grew to become the largest and most important motorcycle ride in the nation, the annual Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle ride seeks to not only exalt the memory of those lost, but to improve the future for Native American children by raising money for scholarships and other educational opportunities. over the years hundreds of thousands of bikers have taken part in the ride, creating a chain of motorcycles two-wide stretching almost 60 miles in length. Their 230-mile route from Chattanooga tennessee to waterloo alabama was lined with supporters waving them on, while thousands more awaited the arrival of the bikers in Waterloo, Alabama, for an evening of music and festivities. the annual trail of tears commemorative motorcycle ride has now become a tradition.

Along the journey the alabama - tennessee corridor association, Inc. has been able to do great work because of the participation of the world's greatest people, motorcyclists, who faithfully come out year after year to enjoy this ride and make it a success. Many wonderful businesses and groups have joined attotcai in making this the largest, most famous, and most prestigious motorcycling event in the world.

We also offer our heart-felt appreciation to the Alabama-Tennessee Trail of Tears Corridor Association for their remarkable efforts to help a nation remember the injustices suffered by Native Americans by providing for the future of their young. Proudly, we are already working with the Association in their efforts to secure additional educational opportunities to a deserving young Native American as part of the Trail of Tears Commemorate Motorcycle Ride.

1995 - 97

Darla Graves, then Executive of the AL Indian Affairs Commission and Jerry Davis, AL - TN Trail of Tears Corridor Committee co-founder and CEO of the Alabama Waterfowl Association, initiated meetings and served on a committee that helped write the legislation for the Trail of Tears Corridor of North Alabama.  On July 13, 1995, this legislation passed as Joint House Resolution 95-346 designating the Hwy. 72 route as an Alabama Trail of Tears Corridor.  In 1996, this overland route was recognized  by the National Park Service as an official trail and added to their Trail of Tears National Historic Route brochure.  That year, 80 Trailblazer signs were purchased by the AL-TN Trail of Tears Corridor Committee and erected along the Hwy. 72 route in Alabama. Two Trail of Tears Historical Markers were erected - the first in Waterloo, AL and the second in Bridgeport, AL at the AL-TN state line. Scholarship Assistance: Alabama Indian Affairs Commission (distributed in $500 scholarships) and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (offered as two annual $5,000 Trail of Tears scholarships for Native Americans).

1998

A third Trail of Tears Historical Marker was placed at Ross' Landing in Chattanooga, TN.

1999

The original AL-TN Trail of Tears Corridor Committee acquired a 501(c)3 non-profit status as the AL-TN Trail of Tears Corridor Association, Inc. "ATTOTCAI."  A fourth Marker was placed on the Tennessee River at Doublehead Resort, Town Creek, AL.

2000
scholarships &
Donations

Income from Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride t-shirts, patches and pins made possible a donation of $10,000 for Native American scholarships in Alabama and another $10,000 for Native American scholarships in Tennessee.  The Alabama donation was made to  the AL Indian Affairs Commission and will be distributed in $500 scholarships.  The Tennessee donation is being offered as two annual $5,000 Trail of Tears Scholarships for Native Americans through the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

$500 donated to the AL-TN American Indian Museum, which holds weekly classes in Native American dance, drum, crafts and language for young people.  No charge. 931-425-6131.

The route followed by the Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride from Ross' Landing to the Alabama State line was marked with 36 Trailblazer signs.

2001
the numbers
donations &
trailblazers

Ride Attendance over 90,000 Motorcycles Participated!! The motorcycles stretched for over 51 miles in length. When the first motorcycle began passing through a town, it was well over an hour of constant motorcycles before the last one passed through. At many points of the ride it is common for a rider to see motorcycles as far as he/she can see in front of them and behind them at the same time.

$500 donated to CIRCL, a Chattanooga, TN non-profit resource center promoting awareness and preservation of Native American history, education and culture.  CIRCL holds genealogy and Cherokee language classes. 423-756-4555.

Trailblazer signs commemorating the John Benge Route from Fort Payne to Guntersville and a historical marker in Fort Payne dedicated Sept. 14th 2001.

2002
The Numbers
Scholarships &
donations

The largest organized motorcycle ride in history!

Ride Attendance was over 95,000 Motorcycles even with the "liquid sunshine" cleaning the roads before us.

Donations for merchandising allowed for an increase to $10,000 in Alabama and $10,000 in Tennessee for Native American scholarships.

$500 was donated to The CIRCL a non-profit Native American preservation group in Chattanooga. $500 to The American Indian Museum in Huntsville.

2003
The Numbers
Donations
scholarships
trailblazers

Largest Organized Motorcycle Ride in History

Ride Attendance was over 150,000 Motorcycles.  Amazing after being at McFarland for about 15 minutes we were told the last bike had just crossed I-65 in Athens.

Donations for merchandising allowed for an increase to $15,000 in Alabama and $15,000 in Tennessee for Native American scholarships.

$3000 was donated to The CIRCL a non-profit Native American preservation group in Chattanooga. $2000 to The American Indian Museum in Huntsville.

Historical markers will be dedicated in Madison, AL, Blyth Ferry, TN and Tahlequah, OK this year.

Completion of the Sacred Tears Monument in Spring Park.

Next: 2004 & 2005

TRAIL OF TEARS COMMEMORATIVE MOTORCYCLE RIDE