Long Walk Home & Sheep Reintroduction
The Navajos left Fort Sumner to return to their homeland on June 18, 1868. The exact number of people who died during the Long Walk and at Bosque Redondo will never be known. A procession of 7,300 people walked hundreds of miles to the newly established reservation. The group trekked for thirty-five days, covering more than ten miles a day. Crossing the Río Grande, the final river before reaching home, triggered emotion among the Diné. Once home, many encountered the wake of destruction left by Colonel Kit Carson and his men four years prior—felled fruit orchards, burned corn crops, ruined hogans. It took more than a year for the U.S. government to provide the supplies and livestock promised in the treaty, so the Navajos subsisted on what they could find on the land.
The day we were to start, we went a little way toward home, because we were so anxious. We told the drivers to whip up the mules, we were in such a hurry. When we saw the top of the mountain from Albuquerque we wondered if it was our mountain, and we felt like talking to the ground, we loved it so, and some of the old men and the old women cried with joy when they reached their homes.
What do you consider your homeland?