Girl Horseback Riding Trail of Tears for a Cause


By Nick Hausen

ELIZABETHTOWN -- You may have seen a girl on horseback along Route 146 in Hardin County. That's 17-year-old Emma Swendsen and she's passing through the region riding along the Trail of Tears. It's the Route Native Americans took in the 1830's when they were forced to relocate to the west.

Swendsen is from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, she's been riding her horse Flame with her dog Rune, tagging along. They started back in April in Charleston, Tennessee and is now more than 300 miles into the journey. She plans to follow the trail to the end in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, another 400 miles.
The trip started when college counselors recommended she take a trip abroad , but instead she began this American journey with a purpose.

"The Violence Against Women and Children Act was up for renewal and being argued over whether or not to extend protection to Native American and Hispanic women," said Swendsen.

Congress was debating whether tribal women should be protected from violence and sexual abuse under federal law. The bill was signed into law in 2013, but Swendsen wants to continue awareness. She stated that one in three Native American women experience sexual abuse in their lifetimes.

"I'm hoping that I'll get to stop and talk to more people and they say, oh yeah, I've never really thought about that or stuff like that, so I'm hoping to get more interest in the fact that we are kind of forgetting our own history," explained Swendsen.

A history she noticed many of her high school classmates have never heard.

"We know what the Holocaust is, we know what most other genocides are, but we don't know the one that happened in America," said Swendsen. "And that's kind of crazy to me."

So she travels on through Hardin County and onto Pope County, always with eight feet on the ground.

Swendsen plans to enroll at the University of Louisville in the fall. As she continues her journey, she asks that if you see her, you wave and say hello.

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