ORIGINAL TREATY OF 1868 SIGNED BY NAVAJO
One hundred and 50 years ago, leaders from the United States and the Navajo Nation etched their signatures on a treaty that reunited the Navajo people with their homeland in the desert Southwest.
Written on paper torn from an Army ledger book, the Treaty of 1868 ended the forced exile of the Navajo people and their incarceration at Bosque Redondo, a camp at New Mexico’s Fort Sumner where more than 10,000 Navajo were interned
Between 1863 and 1866, the U.S. Army forced the Navajo to walk as far as 400 miles from their homes to the camp, where they struggled to survive. The U.S. then sent Gen. William T. Sherman to convince the Navajo to move to “Indian Territory” in Oklahoma, but the Navajo instead negotiated a treaty that allowed them to return home.
This treaty, signed June 1, 1868, at Fort Sumner, guaranteed the Navajo a reservation in Arizona and New Mexico (since then, the Navajo land base has expanded to include portions of Utah and Colorado). Diminished in number and weakened by four years of hunger and hardship, the Navajo began the long journey home.
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