Friday, April 11, 2008

Motorcyclists Misdirected Down The Wrong Road

Originally Posted March, 2008

Approximately 200,000 well-meaning motorcyclists are expected to take part in the 2008 Trail of Tears Remembrance Motorcycle Ride from Chattanooga, TN to Florence, AL this September. The event is conducted by the “Trail of Tears Remembrance Association” - AKA the AL-TN Trail of Tears Corridor Association (Not to be confused with the National Trail of Tears Association). This a continuation of the first small ride that started in 1994 and has steadily grown in large numbers.

One member of the Association, “Chief” Dale Cook, has described the event as “representing the Coming Home- Return of the Cherokee People” and “Cherokees who escaped from the groups being removed….” Cook is from a group calling itself The Original Cherokee Nation” that was formed in 1985. He is one of those who I wrote about earlier who presents the Cherokee as Israelites who escaped from the Romans.

Of the Trail of Tears, Cook further states “A large number escaped along the route. Many persons of Cherokee ancestry came from this group. Their ancestors hid out, changed their names, etc., and survived.” The claim of individuals that they are descendents of Cherokees who escaped along the different Trail of Tears routes ignores the fact that the Cherokee families and their belongings were extremely well documented during the removal, down to the last penny spent along the trail for animal feed and other expenses. Other than those who died along the trail, every individual in the different parties were completely accounted for at the Trail’s end.

That members of the Trail of Tears Corridor Association would like to change history for their benefit is not the real story of this comment. What the Association is doing with the money earned from the event is. Scholarships are being given to students of “Native American descent“. This includes students of the ’tribes” who had been created by Alabama’s magic wand (see post of 2007-02-06 , “State Recognition Scams”, and other posts referencing Alabama). Up to five $5,000 scholarships are awarded to students in each of the states of Alabama and Tennessee. That’s $25,000 in each state. The state of Alabama, through it’s “Indian Affairs Commission“, has stepped in to ensure that it’s students are well represented.

What about descendents of those who actually walked a Trail of Tears? The first such scholarship was given in 2007 to a College of the Muscogee Nation student at Okmulgee OK. For $2,500. It now becomes apparent that the value of a student who’s ancestors actually walked a Trial of Tears is half that of those whose ancestors did not. A greater disparity is found when comparing the total $50,000 given to Alabama and Tennessee with the $2,500 going to one token Oklahoma student.

This is not sour grapes talking, but a questioning of the validity of using the Trail of Tears for raising funds for those who were not connected to any of the removals. This includes the myriad of vendors who obscenely profit during the event from invoking the Trail of Tears name in order to sell their wares. Recent legal challenges between members in the Association have divided the event into a segment that wants to end the ride at McFarland Park in Florence, and another that wants it to end at Waterloo. Here again, the ugly head of profits from the event is raised up. Apparently, no venders provide even a token percentage of their profits for the scholarships. Monies are to be made by whichever community the ride ends in.

The question also arises of why a “Trail of Tears” event is even organized to benefit a majority whose ancestors were never involved in any of the removals. Much less the possibility that some are not even real Indians in the first place (they are required to provide their own genealogy). Such an event improperly capitalizes on the term “Trail of Tears” to gather community support and mislead those who would participate. The expected 200,000 motorcyclists, several Harley dealers, and other supporters are being duped into believing that they are taking part in a worthwhile cause. As well meaning they might be in wanting to help the American Indian, their participation in this ride is accomplishing nothing.

No comments: