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Authors: Nancy M. Armstrong

Navajo Long Walk

BOOK: Navajo Long Walk
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Navajo Long Walk

Copyright © 1994 by Nancy Armstrong

All rights reserved
. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review.

Taylor Trade
A Roberts Rinehart Book
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ISBN-13: 978-1-879373-56-3 (pbk. : alk. paper)
ISBN-10: 1-879373-56-4 (pbk. : alk. paper)
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 94-66493

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992.

Manufactured in the United States of America.



Chapter One: Trouble Comes to the Mesa

Chapter Two: Off to the Hide-out

Chapter Three: Soldiers Find the Canyon

Chapter Four: Time to Surrender

Chapter Five: Back to the Mesa

Chapter Six: On to Fort Defiance

Chapter Seven: A Happy Surprise

Chapter Eight: The Long Walk Begins

Chapter Nine: The Long Walk Continues

Chapter Ten: Crossing the Rio Grande

Chapter Eleven: A Restful Stopover

Chapter Twelve: Arrival at Fort Sumner

Chapter Thirteen: Kee Meets Smoke

Chapter Fourteen: School Begins

Chapter Fifteen: Weaving Brings Happiness

Chapter Sixteen: Cold, Hunger, and Comanche Raiders

Chapter Seventeen: A New Friend

Chapter Eighteen: Little Mare Enters Kee's Life

Chapter Nineteen: A Big Surprise

Chapter Twenty: Homeward Bound

Chapter Twenty-one: Back to the Mesa

Chapter Twenty-two: Home at Last

The Council for Indian Education Series

The Council for Indian Education is a non-profit organization devoted to teacher training and to the publication of materials to aid in Indian education. All books are selected by an Indian editorial board and are approved for use with Indian children. Proceeds are used for the publication of more books for Indian children. Roberts Rinehart Publishers copublishes select manuscripts to aid the Council for Indian Education in the distribution of these books to wider markets, to aid in the production of books, and to support the Council's educational programs.

Editorial Board for

Navajo Long Walk

Hap Gilliland—Chairman

Rosalie BearCrane—Crow

Linda Limberhand—Cheyenne

Esther Peralez—Aztec

Therese Woodenlegs—Northern Cheyenne

Elizabeth Clark—Secretary of the Board

Robert LaFountain—Chippewa

Marie Reyhner—Navajo

Elaine Allery—Chippewa-Cree

Sally Old Coyote—Crow

Kay Streeter—Sioux

Joe Cooper—Yurok

Gary Dollarhide—Cherokee

William Spint—Crow

Jerry Cox—Chippewa

Sharon Many Beads Bowers—Assiniboine-Haida

Julia Minoz Bradford—Hispanic-Lakota

Juanita Sloss—Blackfeet

Mary Therese One Bear—Cheyenne

Gail TallWhiteMan—Northern Cheyenne


In the early 1860s, the United States government was under pressure from ranchers, farmers and other Indian tribes in Arizona and New Mexico to put a stop to raiding by the Navajos. In 1863, although the Civil War was in full force, Union Army forces returned to confront the Navajos.

The army decided they must be moved to a reservation and assimilated into the American way of life. An area known as Bosque Redondo on the Pecos River in eastern New Mexico was chosen as the site of Fort Sumner and the Navajo reservation.

Knowing the Navajos would not go voluntarily, Colonel Kit Carson was sent to wage a campaign that would force them to surrender. It included the destruction of crops, livestock and hogans. The campaign was helped considerably by Col. Carson's successful march through Canyon de Chelly in the bitter winter of 1863-64.

Although some escaped capture by hiding in the inaccessible caves and canyons of Navajoland, more and more Navajos surrendered in 1864, and about 8000 made the “Long Walk” to Bosque Redondo. The forced march of 300 miles from Arizona into New Mexico and four years of confinement at Fort Sumner is remembered bitterly to this day.

A peace treaty signed on June 1, 1868 between the United States government and the Navajo returned to them a portion of their homeland—3.5 million acres set aside along the New Mexico-Arizona border.

The story of these difficult years, the Long Walk and four-year confinement, is told through the eyes of Kee, a Navajo boy, and his family. The family's love for each other and their animals, and the strength and resilience of the Diné (The People) is vividly portrayed.

Chapter One
Trouble Comes to the Mesa

Through the smoke hole in the top of the hogan Kee could see that sun-bearer was just beginning to light the sky, yet his father, Strong Man, was already eating his breakfast. Kee's grandmother, Wise One, was talking with him in low tones as they ate. He must be going raiding again, Kee thought. Oh, how he hoped Strong Man would find Kee's mother, Gentlewoman! The hogan had seemed so lonely without her these last two years since she was captured and stolen away by the Utes. Strong Man had spent much time riding with other Navajo men, trying to find her. If that should happen, it would be the happiest day of Kee's life.

As Kee stretched under his worn sheepskin, Strong Man smiled down at him and said, “My son, take good care of the sheep and your sister and grandmother while I am away. I will try to bring back a horse from this raid. It is time you had a horse of your own.” A broad smile crossed Kee's face. He could hardly contain his excitement. He knew the Navajo called horses “that by which men live,” and he dreamed of having one of his own.

At the sound of approaching hoofbeats, Kee quickly rolled out of his sheepskin. His uncle, Red Cloud, burst into the hogan and said to Kee's father, “Come, we must
travel fast. There's trouble. Soldiers from Fort Defiance have captured some Navajos and taken them to the fort.”

As Strong Man and Red Cloud galloped away, Kee's little sister, Hasba, crawled from her bed of sheepskins and they began their breakfast of corn meal and goat's milk.

“Why should soldiers be attacking the Navajos?” Kee asked. “Why can't they just leave us alone?”

Grandmother shrugged her shoulders. “It is the way of soldiers,” she said. “No one can tell what they will do. We hope that they will not come this far, but keep your eyes sharp today as you herd the sheep and goats.”

“Maybe we should just stay here today,” Hasba suggested. “It sounds dangerous to be out there.”

Kee's laugh was somewhat forced. He tried to sound confident as he said, “The sheep and goats have to eat. But don't be afraid little sister, I will be with you.”

BOOK: Navajo Long Walk
13.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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