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A Million Acres Ndé (Mescalero Apache) Escape

“Civilize” and “Christianize”


Brigadier General James H. Carleton ordered the relocation of Mescalero Apaches and Navajos to a reservation near Fort Sumner. Once there, he planned to group them into villages comprised of adobe-style homes, like the Pueblo peoples. However, the Mescaleros were nomadic people and the Navajos were pastoralists who lived in extended-family networks, often miles from each other. Carleton’s plans for assimilation disregarded the culture of the people he imprisoned. He believed he could "reform" them, and from that reformation he would have a model for all western tribes. Native people were to be trained in farming, instructed in Christianity, and their children taught English in American schools. Like many of his contemporaries, Carleton believed it was practically impossible to assimilate Native adults into American ways, but that children could become “civilized.”

The U.S. government did try to wipe our people out. They didn't want our people in the area, that's why they sent them there, under the guise of teaching our people to become more or less civilized. That's how they looked at it, for that day and age.

James Kunestsis Ndé

What would you do if the government tried to forcibly change your way of life?