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Indigenous People of North America - Navajo

Recent History - Kit Carson and the Long Walk

Old photo of Kit CarsonKit Carson was born in Kentucky and became a frontiersman – he worked as a soldier, trapper (hunter) and a scout. He was ordered to help the government take control of the Navajo.

Instead of fighting the Navajo people, Kit Carson made the soldiers ride around Navajo lands, burning their homes and crops and rounding up or killing their animals. People were killed in the attacks, or rounded up. Some escaped.

The soldiers also attacked Canyon de Chelly and stopped food supplies coming in. After a while the Navajo there began to starve, and thousands of them surrendered.

The government then ordered Kit Carson to move the Navajo people to a central Reservation in New Mexico. A million acres of land had been set aside around the Pecos River, at Bosque Redondo, south of Santa Rosa. Fort Sumner was nearby and the Navajo were to live on the Reservation, under the control of the officials and soldiers based at the fort.

Old photo of Navajo people being kept by force at Bosque Redondo near Fort SumnerThe army rode around the Southwest - Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico, and rounded up the people who were left from every Navajo and Mescalero Apache band they found.

They forced them to walk to Bosque Redondo – up to 500 miles on foot over a couple of months.

This forced march became known as the Long Walk. It was very cruel. Those who could not keep up were either sent away to be slaves, or shot. Anyone who became ill was shot, and women who gave birth on the journey and could not walk were also shot.

More than 2,000 people died on the way to Bosque Redondo.


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