Report regarding first group Long Walk of the Navajo

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
Report regarding first group Long Walk of the Navajo  (1864) 
by Joseph Berney

Santa Fé, N.M.
April 7th 1864

To the
 Asst. Adjt. General
 Hd Qrs Dept. of New Mexico
 Santa Fé N.M.


I have the honor to transmit the following report, for the information of the General Commanding the Department. In compliance with instructions received from the Commanding Officer of the Navajoe Expedition, I left Fort Canby N.M. on the 25th day of January 1864, with fifty enlisted men of my company, in charge of one hundred and sixty five Navajoe Indians, destined for Bosque Redondo on the Rio Pecos. In my first camp I had the Indians disarmed, with a promise that their arms would be returned to them, when they arrived at the place of their destination. I received at Fort Canby a supply of rations, at the rate of one pound of beef and one pound of flour per day, for each Indian, to last me to Fort Wingate, at that post I received the same portion of bacon and flour, their being no beef on hand. The bacon was nearly all wasted as the Indians evidently did not like it: it place was supplied as far as practicable, by game, which their hunting parties had killed on the route. during the march the Indians suffered intensely from want of clothing, four were entirely frozen to death. On the 9th of February I arrived at Los Pinos, and turned over one hundred and seventy five Indians to the Commander of that post, fourteen having joined me on the road. At Los Pinos I received instructions to send back one half of my detachment, and with the other half to await the arrival of a large number of Indians en route from Fort Wingate, and when they had arrived, I was directed to escort the whole number to Bosque Redondo. On the 26th of February, the Indians having all arrived and transportation being in readiness, I had them moved to a camp about three miles from the post, and there put them into lines, under the supervision of their chiefs, to have them counted. There proved to be in all fourteen hundred and forty five (1445) Indians, having in their possession about two hundred horses and between three and four hundred sheep and goats. The Indians received a tolerable good supply of blankets and and [sic] calicoes at Los Pinos. I took subsistance for fifteen days, at the rate of one pound of flour and one pound of fresh meat per day, for each Indian, and a small portion of coffee and sugar for the Chiefs. In my first camp I had them divided into parties, each under a chief, for the purpose of issuing them their rations. I then had the beef killed and gave a portion to each chief, and instructed them to divide it equally among their people: the flour was divided in the same manner. After the second day I had no difficulty in dividing their rations: they would sit down in their proper places and would remain so until all had received a supply for the day. I issues rations to the chiefs separately, giving each one a proportion of flour, a sheep and a small portion of of coffee and sugar, for himself and his family, with this they seemed much pleased, and felt proud to be distinguished from the others. Invariably when the Indians would receive their rations, they would go to their fires, and cook and eat their entire ration of beef at once. The flour they made into dough, using their sheepskins for this purpose—and cooked it hot ashes, or on flat stones picked up for this purpose. In this way a large proportion of flour is wasted. I would here respectfully suggest that a proportion of corn in lieu of flour , would be far more preferable to the Indians. I remarked in many instances that they would give a ration of flour for a single ear of corn. All the hides and sheepskins were carefully cut up and divided, by the chiefs: the hides were worked into moccasins, and the sheep-skins were dried and used to sleep on, and in some cases made into garments for protection against the cold. Almost every evening some one of the principle chiefs would deliver a long speech. I learned though the Interpreter that they would invariably say, that, they had been fools long enough for fighting against the white man, but now they would fight no more: they would do as directed by their white father, plant corn and become rich, and good people: they would also say, that, heretofore they were starving with hunger, but now they had plenty to eat. Some of the chiefs I have known to be the owners of large herds of sheep and horses, some three years ago, those I asked, where were all their property, and they have all told me, that, the large amount of property stolen from them by the Ute Indians, and the destruction of their corn crop last season, was the principle cause of their present poverty. One chief told me that the Ute Indians had taken seventeen thousand sheep away from him alone. I arrived at Fort Sumner Bosque Redondo on the 12th of March, where I turned over fourteen hundred and thirty (1430) Indians to Major H.D. Wallen Post Commander. I lost fifteen Indians on the road, principally boys, three of which were stolen, two strayed from my camp on the Rio Pecos, and ten died from the the effects of the cold &c. The Indians commenced to work on their Acequis immediately after their arrival at Bozque Redondo. They would come forth every morning at the sound of the bugle, with their farming implements, and proceed at once to their work. In the evening when returning they would take with them the mesquite roots which they had taken out of the ground during the day, to be used as fire woods. The meeting between the party which I escorted and those already at the Bosque, was very affectionate, and very touching. Numbers of them shed tears of joy at meeting their parents and brothers and sisters, others wept over the loss of a deceased father or brother. They seem now to be very happy and contented, and we may look forward to the time when they will all become peaceful, intelligent and industrious citizens.

I am, Sir, Very Respectfully
 Your obt Servt.
 Joseph Berney
 Capt. 1st Cav. N.M. vols.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).