Honoring women’s role in return to Dinetah after Long Walk

Special to the Times | Colleen Keane
Ezekiel Argeanas, Diné, wearing traditional attire, stands in front of a mural depicting the Long Walk during a memorial event at Bosque Redondo commemorating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of 1868.


After learning about the events that led to the Long Walk, Ezekiel Argeanas, Diné, talked to historians, researched the archives at Bosque Redondo memorial, met with well-known Diné weavers and attended Sheep is Life workshops at Diné College to find out more about his ancestral history.

“When I was younger, I read books illustrated by Shonto Begay,” 17-year old Argeanas recalled. Grace Roybal, a long-time ranger at the memorial site, said that the forced march to Bosque Redondo began in 1863, with the first group of 51 tribal members coming from To’hajiilee, 30 miles west of Albuquerque.

Roybal said after that, the U.S. army went back 53 times to imprison 9,000 Navajo people. Fifteen hundred people died of exposure or were killed on the way. Another 1,500 people died before a treaty was signed on June 1, 1868, between the U.S. government and Diné leaders. Argeanas stressed that while he respects the headmen, who included Manuelito and Barboncito, for their negotiations with the U.S. government that allowed the Diné to return to their homelands, the women also deserve attention.

“Their knowledge of weaving and the Churro sheep at Bosque Redondo played an important role in our ancestors surviving during a time that was such a tragedy,” he said. To shine a light on women’s contributions, Argeanas created and moderated an exhibit during the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of 1868. The event was held June 8 and 9 at the Bosque Redondo Memorial visitor center.

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Categories: Culture