Modern-day explorer will trace forgotten Trail of Tears river route this month to honor Cherokee

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A modern-day explorer plans to follow a 1,200-mile route along the Tennessee, Ohio, Mississippi and Arkansas rivers that was the route by water taken by more than 16,000 Cherokee Indians who were forced from their ancestral lands in the Southeast to the West by the U.S. government. It sounds like a trip worth following.

Dale Stewart plans to set off on his adventure June 18. More about the trip from his website, expeditionunbound.com:

Although many have heard of the Trail of Tears, most are unaware of the Water Route and the story of the 2800 Cherokee who were removed from their homes to the Oklahoma Indian Territory upon these great rivers. I undertake this journey to honor the men, women and children of the Cherokee. I have listened to their voices and let them look into my heart. I have come to understand that the Cherokee culture is alive in the hearts of the Cherokee people. It is strong, rich, and enduring.

What I hope makes this journey unique is its focus on the resilience and survivability of these great people of the Cherokee. I wish to thank the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian Tribal Council and Principal Chief Michell Hicks, for giving their approval to this project and in the words of the Cherokee, “Shgee” thank you.

More about Stewart:

Dale is an explorer, adventurist, speaker, entrepreneur, and educator. His exploration philosophy is to immerse himself in extreme and often hostile environments, going solo and gaining knowledge of what the wild has to offer. He likes extremes and feels at home where he finds himself, jungle, desert, mountain or arctic conditions.  Not only does Dale explore geographically; he explores ideas, emotions, ways of communicating, and life itself. Exploration is a way of learning that spans history and all cultures.  Dale is a seeker of knowledge and the resources needed past and present to survive.

More from Diamond Brand, which is just one of several sponsors Stewart has on board:

Early next month adventurer Dale Stewart will set out by canoe to retrace the Trail of Tears water route. Those familiar with Cherokee History know about this shameful chapter in our history–the Cherokee removed from their tradtional lands here in western NC and exiled to what is now Oklahoma.

When I think of the Trail of Tears I see an entire tribe forced to walk to their new reservation. I didn’t know that almost 3000 traveled primarily by boat from the holding camps near Chattanooga to Fort Gibson on the Arkansas River–this route followed the Tennessee River downstream to the Ohio and then to the Mississippi. Upon reaching the mouth of the Arkansas River, the route was upstream, on the Arkansas River to the final destination of Naploleon, Arkansas. You can google “Trail of Tears, Water Route” and see a map of the path these Native Americans were forced to follow.

Diamond Brand is supporting Dale by providing him with some freeze dried food and some gear. Dale goes with the support and blessing of Chief Michele Hicks and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee.

Trail of Tears Water Route on FB

Dale Stewart on Twitter

Dale Stewarts’s blog/website, expeditionunbound.com