The forced relocation of the Navajo and Apache people to the Bosque Redondo, a crumbling internment camp located in Fort Sumner, began in 1862. The grueling 350-mile march is now known as the Navajo Long Walk.
A host of dignitaries will gather at the historical site Saturday for the Bosque Redondo Memorial opening ceremonies, among them Gov. Bill Richardson, two U.S. Senators, and leaders of the Navajo and Mescalero Apache people.
The 6,345-square-foot memorial, funded by the state and designed by a Navajo architect, tells the story of the five years when thousands of Navajos and Mescaleros were forcibly removed from their homelands and held by the U.S. government at an encampment along the Pecos River.
According to Scott Smith, Bosque Redondo Memorial manager, the new memorial spans 111 acres and includes a museum and a new monument of a contemporary nature, made from stucco.
The project was conceived in 1967 by planners of the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of June 1, 1868, that freed the Navajo and established the Navajo Nation of today.
But the project fell by the wayside until Sen. John Pinto and Rep. Leo Watchman Jr., both Navajo’s, requested a site at Fort Sumner to “commemorate the Long Walk that the Navajo people took back to their homeland and to commemorate the healing that has taken place since that event.”
The site, which housed between 8,500 and 10,000 Navajos and Mescalero Apaches from 1863 to 1868, was declared a state monument in 1969.
• What: Bosque Redondo Memorial opening ceremonies
• When: 11 a.m. Saturday
• Where: The Bosque Redondo Memorial is located 3 miles east of Fort Sumner, U.S. 60/84, south 3/5 miles on Billy the Kid Road.
• Information: 355-2573 or online at: www.nmmonuments.org