The Long Walk of the Navajos|
The Emigration of Navajo Indians to Fort Sumner, New Mexico
The Long Walk of the Navajos -
When the Navajos tried to take advantage of the military slack caused by the outbreak of the Civil War, the US government
sent Colonel Kit Carson to settle the uprising. His mission was to gather the Navajo together and move them to
Fort Sumner on the Bosque Redondo Reservation. When the Indians refused to move and hid in the Canyon de Chelly, he began
a merciless economic campaign destroying crops and lifestock, burning villages and killing people.
By destroying their food supplies, eventually he convinced the Navajos that going to the reservation was the only way to survive.
In 1864, the Navajos, among with some other tribes, a total of 8-9,000 people, began their move to Fort Sumner.
Colonel Kit Carson,
leader of the anti-Navajo campaign
Along the 300 miles trip to the camp, about 200 people died of cold and starvation. Many more people died after they
arrived at the barren reservation. The original idea was that the Navajos would engage in agriculture at the reservation
but because the land was unsuitable for raising crops and the people had no farming experience, the plan failed.
Four years later, in 1868, partly as a recognition of their mistake, the US government allowed the people to return to their homeland.
Some views on the Navajo long walk by people who lived around that time or shortly after.
"I am under the impression that the Navajo nation, numbering 8,000 or 10,000 people were so severely pressed by Kit Carson, that they surrendered to him, and were put on a government reservation, where they remained under military control, for several years." (H.R. Tilton, "The Last Hours of Kit Carson," quoted in Christopher Carson by John S. C. Abbott, 1874.)
"Their (i.e. the Navajo Indians') depredations continued without serious check until the year 1863, during the American civil war, when the invading Confederate troops having been
expelled from New Mexico, Colonel Kit Carson, the famous frontiersman, led the first regiment of New Mexico colunteers against them. After an arduous campaign, lasting
over a year, the Navajos were subdued, their flocks and villages destroyed, and the whole tribe removed to a military reservation in Eastern New Mexico, where they were
closely guarded." (Clarence Pullen, "New Mexico: Its Geography, Scenes, and Peoples," 1887.)
"After New Mexico and Arizona came into the possession of the United States, a series of unsuccessful military expeditions directed against the Navajos culminated
in the campaign of 1863. During this year Kit Carson invaded the Navajo country, killed the sheep, burned the cornfields, and took possession of water holes, thereby
forcing the surrender of the whole tribe. The number of prisoners held at Bosque Rodondo was 7,300 which was believed to include the whole tribe and doubtless was
90 per cent of all the Navajos in New Mexico and Arizona. (Herbert E. Gregory, "The Navajo Country," 1915.)
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