Resilient spirit of Chahta ancestors paved the way
This year, springtime brought with it a pretty crazy storm season. It has been one of the wettest years on record, bringing flooding to not only Oklahoma but also the entire Midwest as well. Tornadoes and severe storms have been devastating to our region. Many of our tribal members have been affected by this weather and natural disaster.
With that in mind, we had to prioritize the safety of our tribal members and postpone the Trail of Tears Walk from its original date to June 1 due to the threat of inclement weather.
June 1 turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day, so many of you showed up to take part in the walk to honor our ancestors. It is always such an amazing and humbling experience. It is hard to fathom what the Chahta people went through and the atrocities they faced. On May 24, our Trail of Tears Bike Team returned from their 500-mile journey along a portion of the route our ancestors traveled from Philadelphia, Mississippi, to Oklahoma. Biking just a few miles can be grueling, but our team travels 500 miles to honor and connect with our ancestors in a spiritual, physical and emotional way. Even though biking 500 miles is a challenging feat, it still doesn’t compare to the real Trail of Tears.
During our commemorative walk, we only cover 2.5 miles on a modern road. Our ancestors weren’t afforded that luxury. They trekked over 700 miles, facing the elements, disease, hunger, and exhaustion. They didn’t have the opportunity to postpone for the safety of their people like we do today. They were forcibly removed from the safety of their homes and required to leave or face certain punishment. Today, we have tennis shoes to protect our feet from the terrain. We also have planes, trains, and cars to get us from one place to another, shielded from the elements as we travel. Our ancestors didn’t have anything to truly protect them on the journey. Many of them perished on the trail from exposure, disease, and exhaustion. We will never honestly know what horrors they faced, and I can only imagine how traumatizing something like that would be.
So, when we walk in Tvshka Homma or ride with the Trail of Tears Bike Team, we aren’t pretending to know and experience the real struggle our ancestors felt. It is a way for us to honor them and their memory, remembering the sacrifices they made for future generations to prosper. When they left, they had no clue what they were walking into. They had no clear vision of what would happen once they arrived in their new home. But they persisted. The resilient spirit of our Chahta ancestors is what paved the way for our prosperity today. So, when we take part in these events, we are saying yakoke for their strength, for giving us the foundation to rise to where we are today.
We will never forget the strength, resilience, and sacrifices of those who came before us, and what makes us the proud Choctaw Nation that we are today!