In 1804, more and more Spanish people lived in New Mexico. So the Spanish government decided to stop the Navajo raiding. The Spanish army attacked the Navajo. The Spanish killed many people with their new powerful rifles (guns).
Earlier Navajo history
Who were the Navajo?
The Pueblo Revolt
Californians fight the missions
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Mexico rules the Navajo
But in 1823, Mexico became independent of Spain. The new Mexican government had other things to worry about and left the Navajo alone. So the Navajo went back to their raiding. In 1848, the United States government took Arizona and New Mexico away from the government of Mexico. But they still let the Navajo go on raiding Spanish settlers.
The United States seizes control
But now English settlers moved into Arizona and New Mexico. When Navajo raiders took their horses and their sheep, these new settlers complained to the United States government. They wanted their government to stop the Navajo raids.
Kit Carson attacks
In 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, the United States government decided to stop Navajo men from raiding European settlers in Arizona. They were also worried that the Navajo, who were great fighters, might fight on the Confederate side. The army sent the general Kit Carson to stop Navajo raids.
Carson brought many Spanish troops with him. They hated the Navajo because of their raids. And he brought many Ute and Pueblo men, who had also suffered from Navajo raids. Carson’s army killed many Navajo men and destroyed their houses, orchards, and crops. Carson and his army killed or stole all the sheep. They often captured women and children to sell into slavery in Mexico.
The Navajo Long Walk
Soon people were starving. They had to surrender to Kit Carson. He forced all the people who surrendered to walk to a camp in the desert at Bosque Redondo in 1864.
People call this the “Long Walk.” Many Navajo people died on the way, and many more died at Bosque Redondo of smallpox and of hunger. Finally in 1868 the Navajo chief Barboncito managed to make a treaty with the United States government. The treaty said that the Navajo could go back to their own land if they promised they would never fight with their neighbors again.
Back on their own land
Finally the Navajo were back on their own land. The Navajo reservation is the biggest one in the United States, with 140,000 people living on 16 million acres of land, mostly in Arizona. Many Navajo still keep sheep and weave cloth from the wool.