Chief Manuelito of the Navajo Tribe

Fast Facts about Manuelito

Who was Manuelito and why was this Native Indian chief famous? Summary: Manuelito (c.1818 - 1893) was a famous chief and war leader of the Navajo tribe. He was a leading figure in the resistance to military intrusion, the white settlement on Navajo tribal land and the forced relocation of his people.

Manuelito joined his people on the 350-mile trail of death known as the infamous "Long Walk of the Navajo" to Bosque Redondo Reservation. The following fact sheet contains interesting facts, background history and information about the life of Manuelito and the events in history that led to his fame as a great Native American Indian leader.

Fast Facts about Manuelito

  • Tribe: Navajo
  • Alernative names: Hastiin Ch`il Haajiní, Man of Blackweed, Angry Warrior
  • Clan: Bit'aa'nii or ″Folded Arms People Clan″
  • Lifespan of Manuelito: (c.1818 - 1893)
  • Role: Principal chief
  • Place of Birth: Southeastern Utah
  • Date of Birth: c1818
  • Wives: He married the daughter of Chief Narbona. His second wife was a slave called Juanita
  • Date of Death: 1893
  • Place of Death: Navajo Reservation, New Mexico Territory

Manuelito (c.1818 - 1893) was an important Navajo chief who led his people against the white encroachment on Navajo territory. The overwhelming forces of the US army led to his surrender and the forced relocation and terrible journey to the to Bosque Redondo Reservation known as the "Long Walk" .

Manuelito: The "Long Walk"
The US army, directed by General James H. Carleton, conducted a devastating scorched-earth campaign against the Navajo. Colonel Christopher "Kit" Carson was responsible for rounding up the Navajo tribe and organizing what would become known as the "Long Walk" to the Bosque Redondo reservation. These are the facts about the "Long Walk"

  • The "Long Walk" consisted of a series of over 50 forced marches between August 1864 and the end of 1866 involving the forced relocation of nearly 9000 people
  • The Navajos were marched 350 miles from Arizona to the Bosque Redondo reservation in eastern New Mexico
  • Men, women and children were forced to march up to 13 miles a day, at gunpoint
  • The people had no idea how long the journey would take
  • The journey took on average 18 days
  • The Navajo's were not prepared for such a long journey. Their clothes and blankets turned to rags and their moccasins fell apart
  • The conditions on the "Long Walk" were appalling. There was not enough food. Sometimes that had to walk in freezing weather in the snow. Many suffered from sickness and disease
  • They had to cross the waters of the Rio Grande - many were killed in the attempt
  • People who fell on the march were either shot or left to die. Old people and young children suffered the most
  • Some of the larger groups of Navajos on the march stretched for 10 miles
  • Along the way, approximately 200 Navajos died of starvation and exposure to the elements

Manuelito Timeline
The following Manuelito timeline charts the life of this famous Navajo chief and his fight to prevent the Navajo Native Indians move to the the Bosque Redondo reservation.

Manuelito Timeline

  • 1818: Manuelito was born c1818 in southeastern Utah, as a child he was known as Holy Boy
  • 1835: The Battle of Washington Pass. Seventeen year old Manuelito took part in the conflict led by Chief Narbona that defeated a large raiding force led by Captain Blas de Hinojos at what today is called Narbona Pass.
  • 1836: Manuelito married the daughter of Chief Narbona
  • 1846: On November 22, 1846 Alexander Doniphan met with Navajo leaders to pledge a firm and lasting peace in the Lava Springs Treaty
  • 1849: Manuelito's father-in-law, Chief Narbona, was murdered by soldiers on an exploring expedition into Navajo country
  • 1851: The US Army built Fort Defiance at the mouth of Bonita Canyon
  • 1851: Chief Manuelito strongly opposed the establishment of Fort Defiance  conflicts arose over the use of tribal pasturelands for grazing horses and conflicts started to erupt
  • 1855: Manuelito succeeded Sarcillos Largos as principal chief of the Navajo and initially tried to avoid conflict with the US military. On July 18, 1855 he signed the Meriwether Treaty.
  • 1860: The peace policy of Manuelito was abandoned when US soldiers slaughtered many Navajo horses
  • 1860: On April 10, 1860 Chief Manuelito, together with Chief Barboncito, led nearly 1000 Navajo warriors in an unsuccessful attempt to capture the horse herd at Fort Defiance
  • 1860 - 1866: A series of US retaliatory campaigns were waged against the Navajos led by General James Carleton
  • 1861: General James Carleton ordered a scorched-earth campaign against the Navajo which led to the destruction of livestock, beanfields, and orchards
  • 1862: On October 31, 1862, Congress authorized the construction of Fort Sumner to  offer protection to settlers in the Pecos River valley from the Mescalero Apache, Kiowa, and Comanche Native Indians. The creation of the Bosque Redondo reservation was also authorized located in Arizona to eastern New Mexico
  • 1862: The Bosque Redondo reservation was a 40-square-mile barren area where over 9,000 Navajo and Mescalero Apaches would be forced to live
  • 1863: Chief Manuelito and Chief Barboncito met with General James Carleton to discuss peace. General Carleton insisted that the Navajos must surrender and move to the Bosque Redondo reservation that was located more than three hundred miles from their homeland
  • 1863: General James Carleton enlisted famous Native Indian Fighter Colonel Christopher "Kit" Carson to be responsible for rounding up the Navajo tribe and organizing what would become known as the "Long Walk" to the Bosque Redondo reservation
  • 1864: In January 1864 "Kit" Carson launched a full-scale scorched earth assault on the Navajo population destroying everything in his path. Hogans were burned to the ground, livestock were killed and irrigated fields destroyed
  • 1864: August 1864 was the start of the 'Long Walk' period, but Manuelito and his group of Navajos were not captured at this time
  • 1866: On September 1, 1866, Chief Manuelito surrendered his starving people at Fort Wingate
  • 1866: On November 7, 1866 Chief Barboncito was the last of the Navajo leaders to surrender
  • 1866: The last of the Navajos endure the "Long Walk" to the reservation
  • 1867: Comanches and then Utes raid Navajos at Bosque Redondo. In September 1867 Chief Manuelito mounts retaliatory raids on the Ute tribe and then returns to the reservation
  • 1868: On June 1, 1868 Chief Manuelito and other Navajo chiefs signed the Treaty of Bosque Redondo that gave the Navajo back their freedom and part of their homeland
  • 1872: Manuelito was appointed as head of the new Navajo police force
  • 1876: Manuelito meets with President Grant regarding the encroachment of Navajo land
  • 1879: Crops failed and Navajos mount raids to obtain food
  • 1880: Manuelito meets with President Hayes in Santa Fe who suggests that he is made "Chief of Scouts" to control whiskey traffic in eastern part of the reservation
  • 1882: Navajos and white settlers continue to argue over land
  • 1892:  Manuelito is summoned to Fort Wingate to discuss renegade Navajos who were raiding stock from settlers and other tribes
  • 1893: Chief Manuelito died from pneumonia on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico Territory

The Story of Manuelito
For additional facts and information refer to the legend and the Story of Manuelito.

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