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Trail of Tears Remembrance Day

Getty / Nativestock / Marilyn Angel Wynn

Upcoming events in Alabama and Oklahoma will pay tribute to the Native Americans who died.

One hundred seventy-eight years ago, the United States government forcibly removed some 18,000 Cherokees from their homes in the eastern U.S., along with many thousands from other Native American nations, and marched them overland westward to "Indian Territory" in present-day Oklahoma.

Thousands of Cherokee died as they walked the Trail of Tears, as the route came to be known, and a once-proud Native American nation was thrown into chaos.

Today, September 15, marks the anniversary of the day when the last Cherokees arrived in Oklahoma, and since 2014, it's been designated as Trail of Tears Remembrance Day. It's a day to learn more about the Trail of Tears and the people who suffered on it, and it's a day to commemorate their lives.

This weekend and in the weeks ahead, several public gatherings are planned that will help shed light on this dark chapter of American history.

— This weekend in Alabama, the 24th Annual Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride will take participants along hundreds of miles of the original route, offering history and camaraderie along the way.

— Next weekend, Lake Guntersville State Park in Alabama will hold its annual Trail of Tears Commemoration, which includes a walk along a piece of the route and a presentation.

— Next month, the Trail of Tears Association will present its 22nd annual Trail of Tears Conference and Symposium in Pocola, Oklahoma. Features will include history lessons, storytelling, music, and tours.