Building the future, keeping the past<br>
When Kit Carson first entered Canyon de Chelly in 1863, Barboncito took his band of 300 Navajo men, women and children to the top of “Tsélá” or Fortress Rock. At the very top, they used three ladder poles to climb up. They pulled up the poles to keep the enemies from following them. Stocking up on dried meat, peaches, corn, prickly pears and pinon nuts to last for three months, they eluded capture. At night, they used yucca rope to climb down the steep canyon wall to get drinking water. The soldiers never heard the Navajos get water.
Kit Carson and the U.S. soldiers that entered Canyon de Chelly destroyed and burned Navajo hogans, food supplies, fruit trees, animals and natural spring. Carson’s scorched earth campaign forced the surrender of 12,000 Navajo people, which led to the tragic event known as “The Long Walk” to Hwééldi or Fort Sumner, N.M. Following military roads, the Navajos walked 10-15 miles per day to cover more than 300 miles. Hwééldi is for the Spanish word, “fuerete,” which means a strong place like a prison.
Barboncito or Hástii Dágháá (Man with the Mustache) born in 1820, was from the Sliding House area of Canyon de Chelly according to Gary Henry, a Navajo silversmith at the Canyon de Chelly National Monument Visitor Center. Henry lives in that same area of the canyon. Barboncito belonged to the Ma`ii deeshgiizhnii (Coyote Pass) clan. He died in 1871 at the age of 51. As a very important Navajo leader, he negotiated the peace treaty at Hwééldi.
Since General William Sherman wanted only one Navajo Leader to negotiate the peace treaty, Barboncito was selected.
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