Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bosque Redondo

The following event occurred on Thursday, May 18.

On our way home from Santa Rosa, New Mexico, Donna and I stopped just outside the small town of Fort Sumner to visit the Bosque Redondo Memorial.

Bosque Redondo Memorial
Along the banks of the Pecos River, one of the sadder episodes in our nation's history occurred. Under the direction of Brigadier General James H. Carleton, Commander of the Military Department of New Mexico, U.S. troops rounded up Navajos and Mescalero Apaches in the early 1860s and herded them onto a newly formed reservation on the barren plains of eastern New Mexico. The Navajos lost over 1,000 people on the "Long Walk" of 450 miles from their tribal homelands in the Four Corners area. The land was unable to support the number of people the army placed there, and conditions were horrible. The Apaches finally left one night and disappeared into the countryside. When General William T. Sherman investigated conditions at the post in 1868, he found the conditions abominable and reported his findings to Washington. General Carlton was removed from his post, and a new treaty was signed with the Navajos, allowing them to return to their homeland.

Mural in the memorial depicting the "Long Walk" taken by the Navajos.

Close up of the above mural.
Later, the Maxwell family acquired ownership of the post and its buildings. A small ranching community sprang up. During the late 1870s and early 1880s, Fort Sumner played a role in the Lincoln County War as it was a popular stopping place for William Bonney (aka Billy the Kid) and his companions. In fact, it was in Pete Maxwell's home that the Kid was killed by Pat Garret on the night of July 14, 1881.

Supposed final resting place of William Bonney, aka Billy the Kid. However, in the years following his death, there was flooding along the Pecos River, and bodies from the Fort Sumner cemetery were often washed away. It is unlikely that the Kid and his pals actually are resting here.
Today, irrigation makes farming possible, especially alfalfa. Canals crisscross the countryside and fields were green and lush as we passed by.

If you stop, allow 1 to 2 hours to really take a close look. Start at the visitor center, where numerous displays are available. Then walk over to the remains of the military post, passing the Treaty Rock and Travel Shrine along the way. Spend a few minutes in the soldiers' barracks, then take the walk along the river.

Navajo Travel Shrine. These rocks were first carried here from the Navajo Nation in 1971 to commemorate those who were exiled her and who died here.

Navajo Treaty Rock marks the field where the Treaty of 1868 was signed by Navajo leaders Barboncito, Manuelito, and Delgadito, as well as US officials William T. Sherman and Samuel Tappan.
Soldiers' Barracks (right) and Artist-in-Residence Home (left)

Interior of soldiers' barracks.
Plaque placed near location of Maxwell home
Marker indicates specific location of William Bonney's death.

Marker at exact location of William Bonney's death.
This goat was grazing next to the memorial. I found the horns to be highly unusual, so I stopped for this photo.
The murky and alkaline Pecos River, working its way downstream. This is the water the Navajos and Mescaleros were expected to live on.

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