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Add to Wishlist. USD Overview Through a series of treaties, the first of which was signed in , the Navajo Nation began to cede its homeland to the U.

By this time, some Americans had begun to settle in Navajo territory-the present-day Four Corners region of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah-but the real impetus for wanting the Navajos' land was greed. Led by General James Carleton, the U. Army hoped to remove the Navajos and claim the extensive mineral and pastoral wealth of their lands.

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Farming was impractical in the poor quality soil, with inadequate irrigation, and the unpredictable and occasionally destructive waters of the Pecos River. Many died of disease and starvation. Meanwhile, Bosque Redondo was incurring great expense to the government to maintain. Rawlins, that they would be better off sending the Navajo to the "Fifth Avenue Hotel to board at the cost of the United States.

Issues of the camp and the fate of those interred there was debated in Congress , and the Doolittle Committee was formed, led by Chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs James Rood Doolittle , in order to in part investigate the squalid conditions and provide recommendations to Congress. The newly formed Indian Peace Commission , established to resolve the pressing issues of the western tribes, made their official report in January of the following year and recommended their course of action concerning the Navajo, that "a treaty be made with them, or their consent in some way [be] obtained, to remove at an early day to the southern district selected by us, where they may soon be made self- supporting.

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Tappan departed to treat with the Navajo and bring an end to their current arrangement. Sherman and Tappan arrived at Fort Sumner on May 28, with full authority granted by Congress earlier that year to negotiate a treaty. Tappan likened the plight of the Navajo to that of prisoners of war during the Civil War, imprisoned at Andersonville, Georgia , where conditions deteriorated so dramatically nearly 13, had died there. He offered to send a delegation there at the government's expense. The Indian Bureau agent impressed upon the commissioners, that the Navajo were resolute that they should not remain at Bosque Redondo, and although they had remained peaceable thus far, "if not permitted to return to their own country, would leave anyway, comitting depredations as they went.


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Henderson , who had assumed the chair of the Indian Affairs Committee, advising him that "the Navajos were unalterably opposed to any resettlement in Texas, or any place further east, and would not remain at the Bosque Redondo without the use of overwhelming military force.

Tappan had been in favor of a return to their homeland from the outset, and Sherman relented, convinced that the land was unfit for white settlement, and that he had failed in his efforts to divert the Navajo elsewhere. What was left was to define the area to which they would return, and negotiations through the double language barrier of translation from English to Spanish, and then from Spanish to Navajo where not well understood.

He agreed they could go outside the reservation to hunt and trade, but must make their homes and farms within its bounds, the area of which he overestimated by nearly double.

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A dozen miles south of the proposed reservation lay the surveyed route for planned rail construction along the 35th parallel , land which had been promised to the railroad for forty miles on either side. Ultimately, regardless of what may have been put down on the "white man's document", the Navajo thought "only of going home". The treaty was divided into 13 articles. Much of the substance was modeled after the Treaty of Fort Laramie crafted for the Sioux earlier that year, and similar to many other such treaties, Bosque Redondo included a number of so-called civilization or assimilation provisions, designed to incentivize a transition to a landed agricultural existence.

The signing of the treaty, as a treaty, and so defined by the US government as "an agreement between two nations", effectively established the sovereignty of the Navajo Nation , although still dependent on the federal government. They did what they had to do in an impossible situation to allow their people to have a future.

In their "Long Walk Home", the Navajo became a rare example in US history of native people successfully returning to their ancestral lands after being forcibly removed. The people would continue to struggle against their poverty for several years.

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Series: Landmark Events in Native American History

First for the Navajo, who enjoyed the greater freedom of movement allowed by lax enforcement, and also for the government, who could then claim the Navajo failed to respect their agreement, and abrogate their own obligations, saving tens of millions of dollars in subsidies. Of the benefits the government agreed to provide to the Navajo, none ever fully materialized.

June 1, is remembered among the Navajo as Treaty Day, and has since been commemorated, including on June 1, , when thousands gathered at a ceremony held at Northern Arizona University. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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First signature page of the treaty, with those of Sherman and Tappan top , and the opening signatures of the Navajo beginning with Barboncito. Retrieved 5 June Smithsonian Magazine. Native American Magazine. Retrieved 27 June Greenwood Publishing Group. National Museum of the American Indian. Here's what it tells us". The Washington Post. Sunstone Press.


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