52nd legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2015


Pete Campos









     WHEREAS, at the beginning of 1863, the Navajo, a diverse and profoundly spiritual people, had lived for centuries on land in what is now the four corners region of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico; and

     WHEREAS, Navajos lived as shepherds, growers, hunters, wild plant gatherers and defenders of their homeland and were people who were independent and economically self-sufficient; and

     WHEREAS, in the 1850s, hostilities between the Navajo, Hopi and Spanish colonists began to escalate and, soon after, hostilities escalated between the Americans and Navajos; and

     WHEREAS, during this time, a cycle of treaties, raids and counter-raids by the United States army, the Navajo and a civilian militia ensued, with hostilities among the parties escalating; and

     WHEREAS, Major General James H. Carleton became commander of the United States department of New Mexico in September 1862, with an agenda of expelling the Navajo from their homeland and opening their lands to gold and silver prospectors; and

     WHEREAS, General Carleton enlisted the help of Colonel Christopher "Kit" Carson, who would be responsible for organizing the relocation of Navajos from their tribal lands to a military outpost; and

     WHEREAS, for several years, Chief Manuelito, one of the principal war chiefs of the Navajo, led a group of warriors in resisting federal efforts to forcibly remove the Navajos to Bosque Redondo; and

     WHEREAS, "the long walk" of the Navajo started in the spring of 1864 at Fort Defiance, Arizona, a camp located in northeast Arizona at the mouth of Canyon Bonito and ended over three hundred miles away at Bosque Redondo; and

     WHEREAS, Jesus Arviso, a Mexican captive raised Navajo, served as a Navajo interpreter during "the long walk" period and was highly regarded by all parties; and

     WHEREAS, the United States government deported over eight thousand Navajo from their homeland and forced them to walk up to thirteen miles a day for eighteen days at gunpoint to Bosque Redondo; and

     WHEREAS, some fifty-three different forced marches occurred between August 1864 and the end of 1866; and

     WHEREAS, the march was very difficult and pushed many Navajos to their breaking point, including death; and

     WHEREAS, several hundred of the Navajo captives died from starvation, freezing and illness during "the long walk" and some were abducted by slave traders along the way; and

     WHEREAS, upon reaching Bosque Redondo, the United States army put the Navajos to work building the fort, planting trees, plowing and building a diversion dam, with the intent of teaching the Navajos how to farm and be able to feed themselves; and

     WHEREAS, the army's plans were thwarted as insect infestations, flooding and other natural disasters destroyed the crops; and

     WHEREAS, a major portion of the crops were destroyed during the summers of 1865, 1866 and 1867, and the Navajos refused to plant in the spring of 1868, feeling that the land had rejected them; and

     WHEREAS, the crop failures required the United States army to feed and care for the Navajo and to admit that their plan had failed; and

     WHEREAS, the United States military swiftly found itself overwhelmed by the needs of Navajo captives and became unable to adequately feed, clothe and transport the captives; and

     WHEREAS, by 1866, public opinion in New Mexico was turning against the military's experiment to subjugate the Navajos and the New Mexico territorial government petitioned the president to end the subjugation of the Navajos at Bosque Redondo; and

     WHEREAS, finally, in May 1868, a treaty was signed at Fort Sumner, allowing the Navajos to return to their homeland in the four corners region and acknowledging Navajo sovereignty; and

     WHEREAS, Navajo interpreter Jesus Arviso played an active role during negotiations of the 1868 treaty and continued to play a liaison role between the Navajos and their successive agents afterward; and

     WHEREAS, Chief Manuelito was among the leaders who signed the 1868 treaty, ending the period of imprisonment in United States government internment camps; and

     WHEREAS, the impoverished condition of the Navajos moved the United States peace commissioners to allot one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000), fifteen thousand sheep and goats and five hundred head of cattle, as well as token payments to each tribal member, for rehabilitation; and

     WHEREAS, this was a small, but symbolic acknowledgment by the government that the Navajos had been severely mistreated through the forced march and incarceration at Fort Sumner; and

     WHEREAS, at sunrise on June 18, 1868, the Navajos, in a ten-mile-long column, left the Bosque Redondo and returned to their homeland; and

     WHEREAS, on June 4, 2005, the Bosque Redondo memorial on the banks of the Pecos river near Fort Sumner was opened; and

     WHEREAS, the memorial is a symbol of the Navajos' resilience and success upon their return to Navajo lands and stands as a "site of conscience";

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that the Navajos who were forced from their sacred lands on "the long walk" be remembered and commemorated for their sacrifice and bravery; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that one of America's most shameful chapters in history be remembered and continue to serve as a cautionary tale; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to the president of the United States, the governor, members of the New Mexico congressional delegation, the president of the Navajo Nation and the manager of the Bosque Redondo memorial.

- 5 -