The Navajo Language: A Blessing in Disguise
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The Long Walk

In 1864 while the Civil War was going on in the east; on the Navajo land Kit Carson was destroying the crops that were life sustaining for the Navajo.  The plan behind the destroying of the Navajo food was that when winter came the Navajo would have no food and have to surrender which is exactly what happened.  The Navajos were then made to walk 300+ miles to Fort Sumner and here is a story passed down to Howard Gorman.

On the journey the Navajo went through all kinds of hardships, like tiredness and having injuries.  And when those things happened, the people would hear gunshots in the rear.  But they couldn’t do anything about it.  They just felt sorry for the ones being shot.  Sometimes they would plead with the soldiers to let them go back and do something, but they were refused.  This is how the story was told by my ancestors.  It was said that those ancestors were on the Long Walk with their daughter, who was pregnant and about to give birth.  Somewhere between K’aaglogil Dzil (Butterfly Mountain) and on this side of Bilin (Belen), as it is called, south of Albuquerque, the daughter got tired and weak and couldn’t keep up with the others or go any further because of her condition.  So my ancestors asked the Army to hold up for awhile and to let the woman give birth.  But the soldiers wouldn’t do it.  They forced my people to move on saying that they were getting behind the others.  The soldiers told the parents that they had to leave their daughter behind.  “Your daughter is not going to survive, anyway; sooner or later she is going to die,” they said in their language.  “Go ahead,” the daughter said to her parents, “things may come out alright with me.”   But the poor thing was mistaken, my grandparents used to say.  Not long after they had moved on they heard a gunshot from where they had been a short time ago.  “Maybe we should go back and do something, or at least cover the body with dirt,” one of them said.  By that time one of the soldiers came up riding from the direction of the sound.  He must have shot her to death.  That’s the way the story goes.

After the walk ended they were forced to stay on a place that no man or woman would want to live on called Bosque Redondo, NM near Fort Sumner.  They had almost no firewood and had to suffer at Bosque Redondo for 4 years.  Finally, in April of 1868 they were allowed to return to their homeland after signing a treaty that gave away a lot of their land.  And so after 4 years of confinement the Navajo were allowed to go home.
Bosque Redondo
In this photo, the Navajo are gathered at Fort Sumner, the post that was built to watch over the reservation. Government supplies were inadequate for the tribe's needs, and their four-year exile was marked by hunger and disease. When they were permitted to return to their homeland in 1868, the Navajo vowed never to make war with the white man again.
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