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Oral Histories: Share Your Story

About this site

Challenging History

A park ranger found this letter in 1990, left at the Navajo traveler's shrine, behind this building. Except this building did not exist then. What stood here was a recreation of a soldiers' barrack, with a small exhibition that interpreted the history of the U.S. Army from 1862 to 1868. There was little information about the million-acre concentration camp that the soldiers oversaw or the more than 10,000 Mescalero Apaches and Navajos who were interned here as part of the U.S. government’s attempt to eradicate these tribes.

This letter inspired community members and elected officials to develop a memorial to the atrocities committed here. A collaborative effort between the State of New Mexico, Mescalero Apache Tribe, Navajo Nation, and many volunteers led to the opening of the Bosque Redondo Memorial in 2005. It is now a member of the International Sites of Conscience.

This website has been more than thirty years in the making and it will never be finished. The website is meant to be continuously updated, with input from the communities directly impacted by what happened at this site. For each topic in the sequence of events, you will see two voices. One is from the curator and draws from archival sources. The other is from members of the Mescalero Apache Tribe and Navajo Nation and draws from the oral tradition and scholarship of these communities. Throughout the site, you will be guided by the communities' living knowledge of what happened during the Long Walk to Bosque Redondo.

We find Fort Sumner's Historical Site discriminating and not telling the true story behind what really happened to our ancestors in 1864–1868. It seems to us there is more information on "Billy the Kid," which has no significance to the years 1864–1868. We therefore declare that the museum show and tell the true history of the Navajos and the United States Military. We are a concern[ed] young generation of the Navajos.

Navajo Youth

Grant Funding for this Website

On February 2, 2017, Fort Sumner Historic Site/Bosque Redondo Memorial was awarded $150,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the Creating Humanities Communities Grant "Taking Back History: The Enduring Legacy of Bosque Redondo". This generous grant has funded several community initiatives and programs including this website.

More information on the National Endowment for the Humanities can be found at

Project Team & Advisory Board

Manuelito Wheeler, Navajo Nation Museum

Holly Houghton, Mescalero Apache Tribal Historic Preservation Officer

Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Amy Schaefer, Southwest Librarian at the New Mexico State Library

Aaron Roth, Fort Sumner Historic Site/Bosque Redondo Memorial

Exhibit Design Team

Content used in the design of this website draws directly from the permanent exhibitions at Bosque Redondo Memorial that were created through partnership with Navajo Nation and the Mescalero Apache Tribe.

Historical Research Associates, Project Management/Interpretive Design

Bryan Potter Design, Exhibition Design

Anneliese Dehner, Web Design