“A lot of our people are hesitant to talk about this because there was pain and suffering, but there’s a larger story here, a different perspective we need to think about. As Navajos, we want to know who we are.
On June 1, 1868, a delegation of Navajo leaders signed with X’s a “treaty and agreement” with the United States that ended the exile of the Navajo from their ancestral homeland and their incarceration at Fort Sumner. Four years earlier, the Army rounded up the Navajo and forced them to walk to Fort Sumner—a distance of about 350 miles—in a campaign to assimilate the Navajo and relocate them to a reservation. With the Treaty of 1868, the Navajo became the only Native nation to use an agreement with the federal government to return home.
One hundred and fifty years later, the Navajo Nation is commemorating the Treaty of 1868, the leaders who had the foresight to enter into a binding agreement with the federal government and the enormous growth of the Navajo people since then. At more than 300,000 members strong, the Navajo Nation is one of the most powerful Native nations in the United States, with the largest land base. This year, we recognize the difficult past while looking forward to a bright future.