Back at the motel, we put our gear on and headed the 3 miles to Billy the Kid’s grave. He is buried in a small cemetery – fairly close to one of his victims….
A half mile further down the road was Bosque Redondo.
Fort Sumner was the center of a million-acre reservation known as the Bosque Redondo Indian Reservation. The story of how the U.S. Army forcibly moved the Navajo and Mescalero Apache people from their traditional homelands to the land surrounding this lonely outpost is pivotal to the history of the American West.
During this tragic period of U.S. history, the Navajo and Mescalero Apache Indians were starved into submission and then forced to march hundreds of miles to the Bosque Redondo Reservation. The Navajo call this journey the Long Walk. When they arrived, 9,000 Navajo and Mescalero Apache were spread as far as 20 miles along the banks of the Pecos River. Nearly one-third of the captives died during incarceration.
This experiment in social engineering was doomed to failure from the beginning. The Mescalero Apaches—450 strong—left without asking permission in 1865. The Navajo were held for three more years before the U.S. Government resolved to undo this terrible mistake. General William T. Sherman was sent to Fort Sumner in May of 1868 to negotiate a new treaty. The Treaty of 1868 allowed the Navajo to return to their original homes in the Four Corners Regions and acknowledged Navajo sovereignty.