The Long Walk of The Navajo

In the 1860's, after years of conflict between the US government and the Navajos, the Navajos struck back when the US troops were reduced during 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 scorched earth policy campaign destroying crops and lifestock, burning villages and killing people until he eventually starved the Navajo into submission in 1864, Carson ordered the destruction of their property and organized the Long Walk to the Bosque Redondo reservation, already occupied by Mescalero Apaches, longtime enemies of the Navajo.

8,500 men, women and children were marched 400 miles from northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico to Bosque Redondo. Walking in harsh winter conditions for almost two months, about 200 Navajo died of cold and starvation. Many more died after they arrived at the barren reservation. Bosque Redondo was a disaster, there were problems with drinking water, sanitation and disease. The land was not suitable for agriculture. Finally after three long years, the government acknowledged the failure of camp and the surviving Navajos were allowed to return to their land hungry and in rags.


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