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Warfare Comes to Diné Bikéyah (Navajo Homeland) A Million Acres

The Long Walk


The Long Walk was a series of marches over a four-year period, starting primarily at Fort Stanton for the Mescalero Apaches and at either Fort Defiance or Fort Wingate for the Navajos. Depending on which route the U.S. Army forced them to take, people walked upwards of 450 miles to Bosque Redondo at Fort Sumner.

There is nobody around who knows the true story of the Navajos' Long Walk. No man or woman knows exactly what took place during that time. We just repeat as closely as we can remember what our ancestors told us.

Florence CharleyDiné

We had such a long distance to cover. Some old people fell behind, and they wouldn’t let us go back to help them. It was the saddest thing to see — my heart hurts so to remember that. Two women were near the time of the birth of their babies, and they had a hard time keeping up with the rest. Some army men pulled them behind a huge rock, and we screamed out loud when we heard the gunshots. The women didn't make a sound. but we cried out loud for them and their babies. I felt then that I would not live through everything.

When we crossed the Rio Grande, many people drowned. We didn't know how to swim — there was hardly any water deep enough to swim in at home. Some babies, children, and some of the older men and women were swept away by the river current. We must not ever forget their screams and the last we saw of them — hands, a let, or strands of their hair floating.

There were many who died on the way to Hwééldi. All the way we told each other, "We will be strong, as long as we are together." I think that was what kept us alive. We believed in ourselves and the old stories that the holy people had given us. “This is why," she would say to us. "This is why we are here. Because our grandparents prayed and grieved for us."

Excerpt from "1864"By Luci Tapahonso

How does the Long Walk continue today?