A group of Diné on the forced march to Bosque Redondo. Photo: Courtesy Special Collections and Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Libraries, William A. Keleher Collection, 000-742-0389.tif

The Long Walk

During the Long Walk, the United States government forcibly removed the Diné (Navajo) from Dinétah (the Diné homeland) to Bosque Redondo, a million-acre Indian internment camp surrounding Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Between 1864 and 1866, more than 50 groups of Diné men, women, and children walked under heavy military guard more than 300 miles to this foreign and inhospitable place. Many hundreds of the captives died or were abducted by slave traders during the journey. Those who couldn’t keep up with the group were shot. Living conditions at the camp were grim, food rations were meager, and lack of firewood made cooking and heating during the bitter winters deadly. Illness, high infant mortality, and a small-pox-like disease ravaged the captives. While some Diné escaped during their internment, it wasn’t until 1868 that the suffering came to an end. With the signing of the Treaty of Bosque Redondo the remaining Diné began their long journey home.