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On This Day In History: June 1, 1868 - Navajo Treaty

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  • Neshoba
    June 1, 1868: After the long walk to the Bosque Redondo Reservation in New Mexico, the Navajos suffered from the poor conditions on the reservation, and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2002
      June 1, 1868: After the "long walk" to the Bosque Redondo Reservation in
      New Mexico, the Navajos suffered from the poor conditions on the
      reservation, and from homesickness for their old lands. After numerous
      visits from Washington representatives, General Sherman visited the Navajo.
      They again asked to go back to their old lands. They promised to keep the
      peace and the old treaties. Sherman talked with them, and he listened to
      them. With a new treaty in hand, Sherman says he will let them go if they
      sign and obey the new treaty. The Navajos agree even though they will lose
      some of their land as a part of the new agreement. On this date, Barboncito,
      Armijo, Delgadito, Herrero Grande, Manuelito, and others sign the new

      From Phil Konstantin's website, http://members.tripod.com/~PHILKON/


      From http://reta.nmsu.edu/modules/longwalk/lesson/document/may29.htm

      Council Proceedings, May 29, 1868

      This is the transcript of one of the discussions leading to the signing of
      the U.S.-Navajo Treaty of 1868.

      [ Note: while spellings and punctuation in this document have been
      maintained from the original transcription of these proceedings, paragraph
      breaks and colored text have been added to make it easier to read. ]

      Fort Sumner, New Mexico
      May 29th, 1868

      The Council met according to adjournment. Present the Commissioners on the
      part of the United States Government. On the part of the Indians the Navajo
      nation or tribe.

      General Sherman said:
      We have come from our Capital, Washington, where our Government consists of
      a President and a great Council. We are empowered to do now what is
      necessary for your good, but what we do must be submitted to our Great
      Father in Washington. We heard that you were not satisfied with this
      Reservation, that your crops failed for three years and that you wanted to
      go somewhere else.

      We know that during the time you have been here the Government has fed and
      done for you what was considered necessary to make you a thriving people;
      Yesterday we had a long talk with your principal chiefs and then told them,
      that any Navajo could go wherever he pleased in this territory and settle
      with his fammily but if he did he would be subject to the laws of the
      Territory as a citizen, or we would remove you as a nation or tribe to the
      lower Canadian and Arkansas if you were pleased to go there--but if neither
      of these propositions suited you, we would discuss the other proposition of
      sending you to your own country west of the Rio Grande. Barboncito yesterday
      insisted strongly on going back to his own country in preference to the
      other two propositions.

      We then asked him and all the Navajos to assemble here today and for them to
      select (10) ten of their number as delegates with whom we would conclude
      terms of treaty. We want to know if these ten men have been chosen; the ten
      men then stood up, viz:
      Murerto de Hombre
      and the Navajos upon being asked if satisfied with these ten men,
      unanimously responded--Yes--
      We will now consider these ten men your principal men and we want them to
      select a chief the remaining to compose his Council for we cannot talk to
      all the Navajos. Barboncito was unanimously elected Chief --now from this
      time out you must do as Barboncito tells you, with him we will deal and do
      all for your good. When we leave here and go to your own country you must do
      as he tells you and when you get to your country you must obey him or he
      will punish you, if he has not the power to do so he will call on the
      soldiers and they will do it. You must all keep together on the march. Must
      not scatter for fear some of your young men might do wrong and get you all
      into trouble. All these things will be put down on paper and tomorrow these
      ten men will sign that paper and now we want to know about the country you
      want to go to.

      We heard Barboncito yesterday, if there are any others who differ from him,
      we would like to hear them, we want also to hear if you want schools in your
      country--Blacksmiths or Carpenters Shops. We want to put everything on paper
      so that hereafter there may be no misunderstanding between us, we want to
      know if the whole Navajo nation is represented by those present and if they
      will be bound by the acts of these ten men--unanimous response of yes.

      Barboncito said:
      What you have said to me now I never will forget. It is true I never liked
      this place, and feel sorry for being here, from here I would like to go back
      the same road we came by way of Teralote, Bernal, Tijeras and Taralto. All
      the people on the road are my friends. After I cross the Rio Grande river I
      want to visit the Pueblo villages, I want to see the Pueblo Indians to make
      friends with them. I then want to go to Canon de Chelly leaving Pueblo
      village Laguna to the left. I will take all the Navajos to Canon de Chelly
      leave my own family there--taking the rest and scattering them between San
      Mateo mountain and San Juan river. I said yesterday this was the heart of
      the Navajo country. In this place there is a mountain called the Sierra
      Chusque or mountain of agriculture from which (when it rains) the water
      flows in abundance creating large sand bars on which the Navajos plant their
      corn; it is a fine country for stock or agriculture--there is another
      mountain called the Mesa Calabasa where these beads which we wear on our
      necks have been handed down from generation to generation and where we were
      told by our forefathers never to leave our own country. For that reason I
      want to go back there as quick as possible and not remain here another day.
      When the Navajos go back to their own country I want to put them in
      different places, it would not do to put them all together as they are here,
      if separated they would be more industrious. There is one family whose
      intention I do not know, the (Cibollettas) I do not know whether or not they
      want to go back to their own country.

      General Sherman said:
      If the "Cibollettas" choose they can go and live among the Mexicans in this
      Territory but if they do they will not be entitled to any of the advantages
      of the treaty.

      Barboncito said:
      I merely wished to mention it for if they remain with the Mexicans I cannot
      be held responsible for their conduct. You spoke to me yesterday about
      putting us on a reservation with a boundary line. I do not think it right to
      confine us to a certain part we want to have the privilege of going outside
      the line to hunt and trade.

      General Sherman said:
      You can go outside the line to hunt--you can go to Mexican towns to trade
      but your farms and homes must be inside the boundary line beyond which you
      have no claim to the land.

      Barboncito said:
      That is the way I like to be and return the Commissioners my best thanks.
      After we get back to our country it will brighten up again and the Navajos
      will be as happy as the land, black clouds will rise and there will be
      plenty of rain. Corn will grow in abundance and everything look happy. Today
      is a day that anything black or red does not look right everything should be
      white or yellow representing the flower and the corn. I want to drop this
      conversation now and talk about Navajo children held as prisoners by
      Mexicans. Some of those present have lost a brother or a sister and I know
      that they are in the hands of the Mexicans. I have seen some myself.

      General Sherman said:
      About their children being held as Peons by Mexicans--you ought to know that
      there is an Act of Congress against it. About four years ago we had slaves
      and there was a great war about it, now there are none. Congress our great
      council passed a law prohibiting peonage in New Mexico. So that if any
      Mexican holds a Navajo in peonage he (the Mexican) is liable to be put in
      the penitentiary. We do not know that there are any Navajos held by Mexicans
      as Peons but if there are, you can apply to the judges of the Civil Courts
      and the Land Commissioners. They are the proper persons and they will decide
      whether the Navajo is to go back to his own people or remain with the
      Mexican. That is a matter with which we have nothing to do. What do you say
      about schools, Blacksmiths and Carpenter Shops for the purpose of teaching
      your children.

      Barboncito said:
      We would like to have a blacksmith Shop as a great number of us can work at
      the trade, we would like a carpenter's Shop and if a school was established
      among us I am satisfied a great number would attend it. I like it very well.
      Whatever orders you leave here you may rely upon their being obeyed.

      General Sherman said: Whatever we promise to do you can depend upon its
      being done.

      Colonel Samuel F. Tappan asked: How many Navajos are among the Mexicans

      Answer: Over half of the tribe.

      Question: How many have returned within the five years?

      Answer: Cannot tell.

      General Sherman said:
      We will do all we can to have your children returned to you. Our government
      is determined that the enslavement of the Navajos shall cease and those who
      are guilty of holding them as peons shall be punished.

      All are free now in this country to go and come as they please if children
      are held in peonage the courts will decide; you can go where any Navajos are
      and General Getty will give you an order or send a soldier and if the Navajo
      peons wishes to go back or remain he can please himself, we will not use
      force, the courts must decide.

      Tomorrow we will meet with those ten men chosen and enter into business with
      them committing it to writing which they must sign.

      The Council then adjourned until 9 o'clock tomorrow the 30th instant.


      From http://www.cia-g.com/~rockets/nmnavajo.treaty1868.htm

      By 1867, some American leaders felt that they had made a mistake by sending
      the Navajos to the reservation. Several meetings were held with Barboncito,
      Manuelito, and other Navajo leaders. The Americans wanted to know how the
      Navajos felt about living at Bosque Redondo. They also wanted to know
      what should be done about the living conditions there. Some of the Navajo
      leaders realized that the Americans were changing their minds about keeping
      the Navajos on the reservation. During each meeting, the Navajo headmen
      told the American leaders the same thing. They wanted to go home to their
      traditional lands. The Americans listened. But did not promise the Navajo

      One day Theodore Todd, the Navajo Indian agent at Fort Sumner, brought
      Manuelito and Barboncito news that General Carleton had been fired. The
      American leaders were unhappy with carleton's Bosque Redondo reservation.
      In the three years the Navajos were on the reservation, their farms could
      not support the people. The 1867 harvest had been small and the Americans
      knew they would have to pay for more rations, in the coming winter.
      Keeping Navajos at the reservation cost the American government millions of
      dollars. Still, the Navajo people were worse off than they had been on
      their own land. The American leaders in Washington were hoping to find a
      better way. They wanted to speak with the Navajo leaders. Manuelito and
      Barboncito were sent to Washington D.C. to visit with the President.

      In April of 1868, agent Todd, Barboncito and other Navajo leaders left for
      Washington D.C. When they arrived at their destination, the Navajo leaders
      met with American leaders. Finally, they met with President Andrew Johnson.
      Barboncito told the President about the problems the Navajos were having on
      the reservation at Bosque Redondo. He asked the President to let his people
      return to their traditional lands. President Johnson listened to
      Barboncito. He agreed to send representatives to Fort Sumner for a meeting
      with Navajo leaders in May.

      In late May of 1868, General Tecumseh Sherman, and other American visitors,
      arrived Fort Sumner. They were led by. Sherman was a famous Civil war
      general. Agent Dodd showed Sherman and his group around the reservation.
      Sherman was horrified at what he saw. He wondered how anyone or anything
      could live there. After the tour, the Americans asked to meet with the
      Navajo leaders. The Navajo headmen selected Barboncito to speak for them.

      During the morning of May 28th, the American and Navajo leaders met.
      General Sherman asked Barboncito to tell him about condition at Bosque
      Redondo. Barboncito told them about how sick, hungry, poor, and sad his
      people were. He told the Americans about how many Navajos had died and how
      many had just disappeared. He told them that the land of the reservation
      was not meant for his people. The Navajo gods expected them to live between
      the four sacred mountains.

      The general told Barboncito the Navajos had to live in peace if they
      returned to their traditional lands. Sherman told them the Army would do
      the fighting for them. Sherman wanted to meet with ten headmen to create a
      new treaty.

      On June1, 1868, General Sherman held one last meeting with the Navajo
      leaders. Thousands of Navajos circled the place of the meeting. General
      Sherman had the new treaty in his hands. During previous meeting, General
      Sherman and the Navajo leaders had already agreed on the terms of the
      treaty. General Sherman read each term of the treaty and asked Navajo
      leaders if they agreed to the terms.

      "Shall war between the United States and the Navajo Nation end?

      Shall the Navajo Nation belong to the Navajos forever?

      Shall the Americans built schools and find teachers for their children?

      Will the Navajo people send their children to school?

      Shall the Americans buy fifteen thousand sheep, five hundred cattle, and one
      million pounds of corn seed for the Navajo people?"

      Barboncito and the Navajo headmen agreed to all the terms of the treaty.
      General Sherman picked up a pen and signed the treaty. He handed the pen to
      Barboncito. The Navajo leader placed his mark on the paper. Following
      Barboncito, twenty-nine Navajo leaders signed the treaty. Finally, the
      Navajos were going home.
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