Navajo woman and child at Ft. Sumner, 1866. MNM no.3242
The center of a million-acre reservation known as the Bosque Redondo, this site represents one of the most tragic periods in American history.
As Americans settled in the territory of New Mexico, they met fierce resistance from the Navajo and Mescalero Apache people who fought to maintain control of their traditional lands and way of life. In an effort to subjugate them, the U.S. Army made war on the Indians. Those who survived were starved into submission and forced to march a desperate journey into captivity.
Known by the Navajos as the "Long Walk," in some cases a distance of more than 450 miles mostly on foot to the reservation in east central New Mexico. It was an arduous journey that took almost two months to complete during the harsh winter climate.
From 1863-1868, more than 9,000 Navajo and Mescalero Apache people were held captive at Fort Sumner and the surrounding Bosque Redondo Indian Reservation. Most of the 400 Mescalero Apaches eluded their military guards and abandoned the reservation in 1865.
For the Navajos, another three years and approximately 3,000 Navajos had died before the United States government acknowledged Navajo sovereignty in the historic Treaty of 1868 on June 1st. The Navajos were allowed to return to their traditional homelands in the Four Corners region.
Today the Navajo Nation is the largest Native American community in the United States.
Visit Fort Sumner State Monument and experience the history of this site. The visitor center displays and interpretive trail provide insight into the tragic history of the Bosque Redondo Indian Reservation