Aired Tuesday November 20th, 2007 at 8:00 pm
The year was 1864. Eight thousand Navajo men, women and children were forced from their sacred homeland to march over 300 miles to a barren reservation along the Texas border, called Bosque Redondo. Many died along the way and during a four-year incarceration. It was called "The Long Walk."
"The Long Walk: Tears of the Navajo," a new KUED documentary by award-winning producer John Howe airing Tuesday, November 20, at 8 p.m., tells one of the most important stories of the American West. It's a story of heartbreak and triumph against enormous adversity. Narrated by actor Peter Coyote, "The Long Walk" is produced in state-of-the-art high definition television with 5.1 surround sound.
The film focuses on the U.S. military's campaign against the Navajo in the early 1860s, the events leading to it, and the aftermath of the Treaty of 1868 -- all of which would change the world of Navajos. "The landscape of the American West is washed by a thousand tears," says producer John Howe. "The Long Walk of the Navajo is a story never to be forgotten."
In the Southwest, tensions escalated as the Civil War played out on the other side of the country. Navajos saw soldiers and settlers," The New Men", coming to their homeland as part of America's Manifest Destiny.
In the summer of 1863, General James Henry Carleton initiated a military campaign against the Navajo. Former mountain man and frontiersman Kit Carson, now a colonel with the New Mexico Volunteers, led the effort. In the summer and fall of 1863 Carson and his soldiers waged war on the Navajo with a scorched earth policy that destroyed crops, livestock and homes. Few shots were fired in this war of starvation. With promises of food and shelter, Navajos surrendered and the forced relocation -- The Long Walk -- to Bosque Redondo began.
After four years the bleak reservation was deemed a complete failure. The Treaty of 1868 returned the Navajo to their homeland and defined the Navajo Nation as sovereign. Then began the Long Walk Home. The line of about 7,000 Navajos leaving Bosque Redondo stretched for almost 10 miles. The treaty's provision for Navajos to educate their children in Anglo boarding schools would shake their identity.
"It's very difficult for us to talk about these stories," Dr. Jennifer Nez Denetdale, a Navajo historian, says in the documentary. "It makes me cry, and it makes me sad and it makes me angry. And at the same time, we are also very appreciative that our ancestors had the courage and resilience to keep on going in the face of just incredible catastrophe and incredible trauma."
Join KUED for a free preview screening and panel discussion of this documentary Tuesday, November 20, 7 p.m., at The City Library Auditorium, 210 East 400 South.
Panel members include Jennifer R. Denetdale, Ph.D., acclaimed scholar and author of "Reclaiming Dine History," Forrest Cuch, executive director, Division of Indian Affairs, Anthony Shirley, academic advisor and recruiter, University of Utah College of Nursing, and Davina Spotted Elk, project director, University of Utah American Indian Teacher Training Program.
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