Saturday, July 8, 2017



I saw something interesting on facebook mentioned by a Navajo/Dine person, and I decided to share it on my facebook page. Like I try to do, I shared a little story about the Dine people from my own very limited experience – I like to do that when I share something from any cultural group. I’d heard this story years ago from someone – I have no idea who or where it came from. But people can just make up stories, that’s why everything needs to be verified. Here’s what I’d said;

"Here in eastern Jackson County, Oklahoma there once was a little community called "Navajo". There is no town there now, but there is still a school that has always been called "Navajo School". I was told it was called "Navajo" because the Navajo Nation was supposed to move there. But after they started their journey, like other tribes being forced to come to Oklahoma, they were marched with armed guards. At some point they stopped, said "NO! -- were not goin' any further!" and turned around, and went back home. I know the second half of that story is true -- not sure about the first half. I need to look into that.”

As soon as I wrote that I knew I had no idea if the first part was true. Yes, I had heard it at some point. I’m 64 years old. In that amount of time you hear a lot of things. I thought I should have verified be before saying it. My own ethical code of conduct demands I verify it, before saying it, and I didn't do that! I had to look further into it!  And history fascinates me. I wanted to find out, anyhow.
From Wikipedia,_Oklahoma
I went searching the internet. I found a different explanation for the name of the town and the small range of accompanying mountains being named the “Navajo Mountains”. At the above link we have;

“According to local lore, the town took its name from the nearby Navajo Mountains, where, in the mid-1800s, Comanches annihilated a band of Navajos who were on a raid to steal Comanche horses.[1] In those times, the Comanches and their close allies, the Kiowas, were constantly in conflict with the Navajos, and such long distance raids across the Texas Panhandle by the warring tribes were not uncommon. Quanah Parker, the renowned Comanche chief, gave a detailed account of an essentially identical failed Navajo raid, in 1848 or 1849, against his village on Elk Creek, just north of the mountains.[2][3] Given that such raid on Quanah's village occurred at the same time and in the same place with the same results, it was quite likely the raid that gave the mountains their name.”

Yesterday the book I'd been waiting for came -- "Frontier Blood, The Saga of the Parker Family", by Ella Powell Exley, Texas A & M University Press. It gives the Comanche view of the incident. Per this book, on annihilation took place. It says three Navajo were killed out of a raiding party of sixteen. I transcribed 3 of four paragraphs from that book at the end of this report.

The Navajo Mountains

This is a small range of mountains that rise only a thousand feet above the surrounding prairie. They are true mountains, one of the oldest ranges in North America. They were said to have been as high as the Rockies are today, when the Rockies were under a great inland sea. But wind and rain eroded our mountains down, while other factors lifted the Rockies up out of the sea.

We have an account of the Navajo Mountains being named “Navajo Mountains” by the Comanche, as a reminder of a battle that once took place there. Could I have been wrong? Well the answer to that is obvious – YES! But I’m not 100 percent convinced yet. In that one paragraph at wikipedia, there were three pretty good citations: 
1.       Old Navajoe, Chronicles of Oklahoma, Volume 24, No.2,E. E. Dale (1946)
2.       Frontier Blood: The Saga of the Parker Family, Jo Ella Powell Exley (2008) 
3.       Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, S. G. Gwynne (2010)
That first article, I know, from “The Chronicles of Oklahoma”, our state's historical journal, can be found online here -- I have found it, and transcribes a small part of the article that mentions that Navajo raid on Comanche lands. It says;
"These peeks were formerly called Navajo Mountains because of a tradition that about the middle of the last century a great battle was fought at their base between a war party of Navajo; who had come east to pray upon the horse herds of the Comanche, and a band of warriors of the other tribe, in which the Navajo had been completely destroyed."

I’m not sure exactly when Quanah was born, but he died in 1912, so I’m pretty sure that Navajo raid for horses would have occurred when he was very young. Maybe it was from a story he was told as a young man.

They mention a Comanche Village on Elk Creek. That sounds like the same village where the Wichita and Kiowa were found by the Dragoon Expedition just a 15 years earlier. In the early 1830s the first meeting between the Comanche, Kiowa and Wichita took place as an expedition of the United States Cavalry (then called First Dragoons, later designated First Cavalry. They gave up their horses for tanks, and today are simply called "First Cav") left Fort Gibson in Eastern Oklahoma and travelled west to a place where the Wichita, Kiowa and Comanche were encamped. I know people today who have gone to Elk Creek and gathered arrowheads. That still goes on to this day. Our government went there with the express purpose of meeting with those three tribes, and letting them know there would soon be an influx of Indians from southeastern tribes arriving. Many had already arrived, but this would be a major change in the order of things, and it would disrupt all the tribes already in Oklahoma. They would have to cede any claims over Eastern Oklahoma to these Emigrant Indians, and they weren’t really all that keen on doing that. So it looks that many of these people lived in that area, probably from the early 1830s. at least, until that Navajo raid in 1848 or 9, at least. I think it is safe to say they may have lived there far longer than that.

Above is a historic marker denoting those Dragoons. It mentions some famous people who were there. Col. Henry Dodge, for whom Dodge City, Kansas was named. Also present was Nathaniel Boone, son of Daniel. Also of note is the famous artist of Western Indians, named George Catlin. But there was also unit of Rangers called “Beans Rangers” not mentioned on this plaque, who came from Arkansas. Two of them, Jarrett and James Wayland, were first cousins of each other, but I’m proud to say they were also first cousins of my direct ancestor, Sarah Ann Wayland, who was one of my great-great grandma’s. This historic marker stands about 15 miles north of where I live. Devil’s Canyon is just to  the south of where this photo was taken and was the location of the Wichita Village. Per this story, just a couple of miles north of this photo was the Mouth of Elk Creek, which ran into the "North Fork o' the Red, where the Comanche Village was locacted. The mountains designated “Navajo Mountains” are maybe ten miles down river to the southeast of this historic marker. There is no historic marker showing the location of this encounter between the Navajo and Comanche. A good place to start though, might be the old cemetery for the ghost town. It's all that's left. The low lying mountains at this historic marker are designated the ”Quartz Mountains”. Each little group has its own designation, but collectively they are called the “Wichita Mountains”.
The Long Walk
The Dine People were forced to leave their homes. Where were they supposed to go, though? Was their final destination supposed to be Oklahoma, as was the destination of so many other tribes? How can we find out?

We hear so much about the “Trail of Tears” of the five larger tribes of the American Southeast, we can sometimes forget other tribes were forced to migrate long distances as well. Look at the Delaware. There is a state named after them on the Atlantic Coast, yet today we find “The Delaware Tribe of Western Oklahoma” around Anadarko and neighboring towns. Many tribes migrated great distances. But most of these migrations were from the East going west. Only a few travelled from the West going East – the Modoc of California, Geronimo’s band of Apache warriors and their families, and the Cheyenne and Arapaho from Colorado. All these came to Oklahoma from the West.       

The Navajo were also asked to move eastward, too. The article at the link above is excellent. It tells of the government’s attempt to move the Navajo from their homeland. The following map is taken from it.

I can see after looking at this map I was wrong about one other thing, too. They weren’t to be moved to Texas – but rather to Fort Sumner, in New Mexico. Hmm. I’m walking on this ice, now. It is starting to look more and more like they weren't designated to come to Oklahoma after all. I have learned all I need from Oklahoma sources. I need to look at the other end. What do the Dine themselves say?
The Navajo Long Walk
I found several stories about the “Navajo Long Walk” online. This story seemed pretty good, so I thought I’d share it.

"Through the eyes of the canyon people may we learn the truth of the death march to Fort Sumner, New Mexico. 
"Long ago in 1846, before the death march the people gathered at Fort Canby, now known as Fort Defiance. The people gathered under the orders of the U.S. Cavalry and more than Ten Thousand Dineh came together to witness the peace treaty signing at a place called Bear Springs, near the Chuska mountains. The Dineh council of Twelve Headmen signed the treaty in a perfect balance of six Beauty Way teachers (Chiefs), and six Discipline Way teachers. This Treaty was recognized as binding to the people and they began to celebrate by dancing in ceremonies called Enemy Way, this ceremony was done to restore harmony to the people whom are out of balance. The dances intensified and after several warriors shot their rifles into the air as a sign of triumph. The soldiers panicked, and began to open fire on the people. Over one hundred Navajo lay dead after the massacre. Chief Manuelito ( Man of sacred plants, leading out of canyon waters edge, Holy Boy or Little Messiah ), stated to the people that we should not get together in large groups any more because the soldiers fear our power and misunderstand our purpose. 
"In 1849 Lieutenant Colonel John Washington entered into Canyon De Chelly from the east canyon known as Monument canyon, and was watched by the outlook warriors from overhead for about thirty five to forty miles, before being confronted by hostile enemy. The people hid in the caves and cliffs long before the soldiers' arrival. More than three hundred warriors attacked the contingent of four hundred men in the cavalry, and surrounded them near present day White House ruins. The Colonel was intimidated by the impressive display of warriors above him. The Colonel unleashed his fire power of canons into the canyon walls as a show of strength. The show of fire power did not slow the attacking Navajo and the colonel had to retreat to a safe place at the mouth of the canyon known as Chinle, there on a little hill, where the park service visitor center is located. 
"The Donavan Treaty was signed as quickly as possible by three peace chiefs, Mariano Martinez (The man who wears the black shirt), Chipitone (Horse giver's son), and Zarcarillos Largos (Peace Chanter). Narbona ( Man of war and Leader Man ), a war chief form "Red running into water clan", refused to sign the treaty, stating that a balance of twelve leaders did not exist, and the Enemy Navajo chief Hastin A'na'i ( Savayann Carvajal ), from New Mexico had been named as the headchief on the treaty that day. The enemy Navajo scouted and fought against their own people. The enemy Navajo were the first ones put into Fort Sumner prison camps and could not understand the reason for the bad treatment they were receiving from people they trusted. As Narbona began to ride away on horseback, the enemy Navajo chief accused him of riding a stolen horse from his stable. 
"The Colonel ordered the warchief to dismount and surrender the horse, and Narbona refused and was shot in the back and wounded. Narbona's warriors attacked and six were killed in the battle. Manuelito was camped on his fort high atop the battle scene and witnessed the ambush of his father in-law. Manuelito came charging down from the hill and drove the cavalry out and over the canyons to the east, this allowed his father in-law to escape back into Canyon De Chelly. This treaty was never recognized as binding or peaceful by the people who still remember and distrust signing their names to paper documents, unknowing the words and language in which the document was written. 
"In 1863 the U.S. Government sent an Indian fighter named Colonel Christopher "Kit" Carson, a fur trapping man from New Mexico. The government sent soldiers into Navajoland to rid Dineh of the territory, for the prospect of mining the land for rich minerals. Through the settlements of the Christians, the government could open the land to mining the potential minerals under the sacred lands of the Navajo.
"In a sacred sweatlodge a vision was seen by Dineh Medicine Man, named "The man with young Lambskins on his hat", from the "One who walks around you" Clan of Canyon Del Muerto. In this vision of prophecy, the bluecoats were seen attacking and burning the farms and homes of our people. Lambskins Hat began to prepare the residents inside the canyons, but some did not believe the vision. The people of Blackrock canyon and Del Muerto canyon began to stock pile dried foods inside storage bins built of stone and mud, at the top of Fortress Rock, which is located at the fork of the two canyons. 
"During July of 1863, Kit Carson and seven hundred men return to Fort Defiance. Manuelito and Barboncito (Man with whiskers, Leader man, The Orator or the talker and One who runs with the young warriors ), watched the American troops ride into the fort. Many Navajo people were already suffering from raids by all their enemies. Each day war parties raided the Navajo camps. Families were afraid to return to their homes. Utes had destroyed and burned the Navajo's hogans. Utes were the Navajos most dangerous enemy. Kit Carson had encouraged the Utes to raid the Navajos. He paid the Utes money for stolen livestock and allowed them to keep Navajo prisoners. Ute warriors attacked any Navajo that they saw. The headmen knew that the Bluecoats, would soon be coming to attack the Navajos. 
"At first, the troops didn't do much damage to the Navajo people and their property. Kit Carson's troops destroyed the abandoned Navajo homes in the valley, but only a few Navajo were killed or captured. Still, the Navajo warriors fought the American troops. They attacked a group of soldiers gathering Navajo horses and killed their officer. Navajo warriors raided the Fort Defiance corral and ran off a large herd of horses. Kit Carson could not be stopped. 
"In August of 1863, he led his men across Navajo country. He divided his soldiers into smaller and faster riding groups. These groups destroyed every Navajo camp they found. The soldiers were not able to capture many Navajos. So far, most of the Navajo families were able to hide from the enemy. By September, Carson's men had captured only fifty Navajos. General Carleton was mad. He ordered Kit Carson to attack Barboncito's people in Canyon de Chelly. 
"During the month of November, the sky of the Chuska Mountains was dark with rain clouds. The cold wind signaled that winter was coming early. Although winter was about to come, the Ute and American raiders continued their attacks on the Navajos. Some Navajo bands were running out of food, other bands had no food left. Their enemies had destroyed their crops and livestock. Barboncito's brother, Delgado or Delgadito (Tall Painful One), knew that his band would not survive the cold winter. Reluctantly, he decided to surrender to the soldiers at Fort Defiance. Kit Carson moved them to Fort Sumner. Barboncito swore he would never surrender to the American troops.

"When Carson's men were ready to attack Canyon de Chelly, Barboncito's warriors ran off all of the army mules. The mules were needed to carry the soldier's supplies. The American soldiers ran after the raiders and the mules. A heavy snowstorm started and the soldiers had to return to the fort. Barboncito's warriors butchered and ate the mules. Carson's attack was delayed. 
"On January 6, 1864, Kit Carson led almost four hundred soldiers into Canyon De Chelly. Deep snow covered the mesa and valley below. A sharp cold wind froze the finger and ears of Carson's men. However the Americans didn't stop their expedition. Most of the Navajos were starving and freezing. Carson hoped the Navajos would be easy to conquer. His army traveled through the canyon and destroyed every abandoned Navajo camp that they could find. For sixteen days, the soldiers burned the hogans, tore down the corrals, destroyed food supplies, and filled up water holes with rocks and dirt. Finally, the American troops reached the Chinle area. Kit Carson made camp and waited for the Navajos to surrender. Many people surrendered except for three hundred or more, who were on top of Fortress Rock. Barboncito and Manuelito were survivors on this island of a rock, and were led to war by Chief Lambskins Hat. 
"Many Navajos realized they would not survive the winter. They had no livestock. There homes were in ashes, crops destroyed, the children wore rags, and their were so many enemies attacking them, the Navajos were afraid to light fires to keep warm. Most of the Navajos had no choice. They had to surrender to the American troops. Families began to surrender to Kit Carson. Other Navajos walked into Fort Defiance and Fort Wingate to surrender. The soldiers gave the Navajos food and blankets. The Navajos were surprised at the soldiers' charity. They thought the soldiers wanted to kill them. When the news of their good treatment reached other Navajos, more people started to surrender. 
"Delgadito returned from Fort Sumner. He told the Navajos at Fort Defiance that there were food, blankets, and safe homes there and there were many soldiers to protect them from their enemies. He advised the Navajos to surrender. One by one, Navajo bands trickled into Fort Defiance and Fort Wingate. Soon both forts were overcrowded with thousands of Navajo prisoners. The soldiers ran out of food and blankets for the Navajos. General Carleton was astounded. He did not know there were so many people. 
"Several Navajo bands refused to surrender. Manuelito and his people moved into the Hopi country. After Carson's attack on Canyon de Chelly was over, Manuelito's people returned to the Chuska Mountains. The Navajo warrior remained ready to fight the American troops. If the enemy attacked again, the Chuska Navajos would give them a battle their enemies would remember. Barboncito and his people did not surrender too. Three hundred of his men, women, and children were hidden safely on top of Fortress Rock in Canyon Del Muerto. 
"Fortress Rock was a giant butte with tall, steep sides. Barboncito's people used ladder poles to climb to the top. Then they pulled the ladders up behind them so their enemies could not follow them up Fortress Rock. 
"Carson's soldiers could not find a way up the butte. There was no water on top of the rock, but there was a water hole at the bottom of Fortress Rock. The soldiers guarded the water hole day and night. The American troops thought the Navajos would surrender or die of thirst. But when night came, the people took empty water jugs and quietly climbed down the cliffs. They formed a human chain of more than seventy people, holding hands off the side of the one hundred foot sloping cliff, they tied long yucca ropes to the jugs, lowered the pots into the water hole, filled them, and pulled them back up again. The people were so quiet that the American guards did not even know the Navajos were there for the water. 
"The soldiers finally left the Fortress Rock area when Lambskins Hat resorted to the evil way or witchcraft. In the dead of the nightsky Lambskins hat unleashed the evil wind spirits that guided the fateful arrow which killed an officer in the U.S. Cavalry. The Ute scouts whom witnessed the event began to pack up and leave as quickly as possible stating that all would die in this canyon if they did not leave at once, the soldiers were left there till the next day and began to tear down the stone fort headquarters they had built, thinking of starving the people off of the rock. The elders tell the story of a lone body wrapped in a blanket, preceded by bluecoats escorted out of the Canyon Del Muerto after their defeat at the hands of the Dineh warriors. 
"Barboncito's people came down from Fortress Rock and the traveled towards the Little Colorado River. The Navajos hoped the soldiers would not follow them. By March of 1864, more than five thousand Navajos were prisoners of the American soldiers. Groups of Navajo captives began the long trek to Fort Sumner, which was several hundred miles away. The American cavalry only had a few wagons and the Navajo people only had a few horses. Almost all the people had to walk to Fort Sumner. 
"Soon the Navajo's moccasins fell apart and their clothes and blankets turned to rags. During the walk, snow fell on the people marching. Many people became sick and died. They also became sick from the different foods that the soldiers gave them. The Navajos did not how to use white flour and coffee beans. They mixed the flour with water and drank it. Then they tried boiling the hard coffee beans in stew. This combination gave the people severe stomach cramps. Old people and young people fell along the trail. If they did not get up the soldiers either shot them or left them to freeze to death. 
"Half way through the march the people had to cross the Rio Grande river. Many were forced into the river by soldiers on horseback and were seen as they washed away and drowned. Many women did not want to cross the river and sacrificed themselves and their babies and disappeared into the river. The surviving Navajo's pleaded with the soldiers and the Navajo's were allowed to cut down tall trees of cottonwood. With the branches of the trees cut the people began to swim across the fast moving river, again many people drowned and were washed away. 
"The tired and ragged people struggled to get to Fort Sumner. Coyotes began to follow the Navajos and crows circled over their heads. They were waiting for somebody to die. The line of weary prisoners became so long the Army could not protect all the people from enemy attacks. New Mexican raiders attacked the Navajos and took their children. The soldiers made the people continue their march to the fort. The people were than forced to march to Santa Fe, N.M. into the streets, to be made an example to the Pueblo people who were having an uprising, and revolting against the government. Many people were stoned to death by revenge seekers while young women and children were captured for slave trade.

"The headmen began to wonder if they should have listened to Delgadito's promises. They were suffering more on the Long Walk than they had suffered on their own land. The Navajo people were hungry, cold, ill, and sore. Over three thousand Navajos had died and the prisoners were a long way from Fort Sumner. Conditions might have been better for the Navajo people if they had not surrendered. But now it was too late. The headman hoped and prayed there would be food, clothes, homes, and safety at Fort Sumner.
"Before the arrival of the people, the Enemy Navajo were imprisoned along with four hundred Mescalero Apache. These first prisoners built the pueblo's that the Navajo would live in, as first thought by the soldiers, but all Navajo began to dig pit homes and spread out as far as the eye could see. The soldiers had put the Navajo between themselves and the Comanche from Texas. This tactic allowed Navajo's to be attacked and killed, without the protection of the soldier's afforded to other tribes that cooperate with the government soldier's.

"Upon the arrival at the fort the Navajo's were forced to dig irrigation ditches for the coming corn planting season. This occurred in the winter when the ground is frozen and hard as rock. The crops that the people planted in the spring did not grow due to the salty land and poor water quality of the Pecos river. 
"In the summer of 1866, it is decided by the remaining people whom were never captured. A leader should be sent to bring back the people to there homeland, thus Chief Barboncito was sent with Chief Manuelito as his bodyguard. One of Manuelito's wives named Juanita ( One who walks around you woman ), made the trip to Fort Sumner to organize and serve as leader of the Navajo Women. Barboncito and the warriors, began there trek across hostile enemy territory from present day Running Antelope House ruins site inside Canyon Del Muerto. 
"The chiefs from Navajoland arrived and see the suffering of the people, and begin to think of a way to win the release of the people. Barboncito would exploit the greed and gambling nature of the commanders in charge. The great chief would gamble that his warrior would outshoot the best Ute warrior in an archery contest. The chief guaranteed the delivery of the rest of the Navajo still left on Navajoland. The soldier's placed a small six inch target made of leather upon the cottonwood tree branches. Sticks were drawn and the Ute warrior had to shoot first and missed the center of the target by an inch. The chief chooses Inoetenito ( K'aa K'ehi - Man like shooting arrow ) form the Folded arm people clan, also known as "Under his clover or cover clan", and the skilled warrior hit the center of the leather target and won the freedom of the Navajo people. 
"As the documents of the treaty were being drawn up through negotiations, the people celebrated and began sacred ceremony known as "Put the white beads into coyote's mouth" and the coyote showed the way home to the west toward the four sacred mountains. This was done to ensure that the Navajo people would never suffer in this barren land of the Bosque Redondo. When the treaty was signed by a council of twelve headmen and fourteen witnesses the people were released to march home. When the people saw the south sacred mountain, they knelt down and cried. The Acoma pueblo came out of their homes and villages to feed and help the suffering Navajo, the Acome had also provided help to the people during the march to the fort. Barboncito sent back a band of warriors with "Man like shooting arrow"( Inoetenito ), to shoot the flaming arrow into the cottonwood tree where the target was placed, as a symbol of victory to the Navajo. 
"During this time in the suffering place more than five hundred people still lived inside Canyon De Chelly and Canyon Del Muerto combined. Lambskins Hat had drawn the four sacred antelope on the sandstone walls of Running Antelope House as a vision had come to him in a sweatlodge ceremony. In this vision he saw the people returning to the canyons to thrive again like the once extinct antelope and mountain goats. The four antelope were drawn in 1867 during the people's imprisonment. The goat represents the reestablishment of harmony through the Enemy way ceremony, the zig-zag line represents the Lighting way to protect our sacred traditions, and last the double circle with the cross in the center represents the peace treaty, which the people made with the Christians promising never to choose sides, but to blend the two beliefs to be in balance with one's self. 
"The people at home during the imprisonment had to battle two hundred Ute warriors at "Ute raid canyon, and Ute raid pictograph cave". The people knew through a series of lookout people, the Ute's were coming and prepared twelve decoys to run the raiders into the box canyon and ambush them. The Navajo warriors appeared above the raiders and began to assault from above with rocks, large wood beams, and sharpshooters with rifles and bow and arrows. The Ute raiders were trapped when more than two hundred of Barboncito and Manuelito's warrior's attacked from the rear, closing off the escape of the enemy and the takeover of the canyon's was brought to a halt by the fierce and brave stand by the Navajo inside Canyon Del Muerto. 
"To this day the Navajo have never returned to Fort Sumner as prisoners or as a large group. The Dineh people now do Enemy Way ( Nai' Daa') to restore the harmony into the people disrupted by the violence and corruption of the outside world. Through the balance of traditional Dineh teachings and the acceptance of Christianity, the Dineh find healing and harmony in this world. "
By Adam J. Teller - stories of my Grandma May Thompson and Grandpa Chee Draper.

Fort Sumner
Well is my original tale about the Navajo Mountains being named after a failed attempt to remove the Dine people to Oklahoma, dead in the water? If not dead yet, it’s starting to look terminal, hangin' by a hang nail. I’ll check one more place on line --  the fort designated as their final destination – Fort Sumner.

After reading the both tragic and heroic struggle of the Dine to survive, I am moved. I can see the struggles of many tribes, in fact every one has similar stories of what they had to do to continue to exist, my own Cherokee and Catawba included. I'm mostly Caucasian, but I have some American Indian blood, as well. Theirs is a story that needs to be told and retold. Remember the old saying, "Those who forget history are doomed to forget it, and repeat the same mistakes again." I am worried by this historic marker -- it barely mentions the Navajo and Apache who were "guarded" there.

We learn that both the Mescalero Apache and the Dine people were sent to Ft. Sumner. Wikipedia says;
"In April 1865 there were about 8,500 Navajo and 500 Mescalero Apache interned at Bosque Redondo. The Army had planned only 5,000 would be there, so lack of sufficient food was an issue from the start. As the Navajo and Mescalero Apache had long been enemies, their enforced proximity led to frequent open fighting. The environmental situation got worse. The interned people had no clean water; it was full of alkali and there was no firewood to cook with. The water from the nearby Pecos River caused severe intestinal problems, and disease quickly spread throughout the camp. Food was in short supply because of crop failures, Army and Indian Agent bungling, and criminal activities. In 1865, the Mescalero Apache, or those strong enough to travel, managed to escape. The Navajo were not allowed to leave until May 1868 when the U.S. Army agreed that Fort Sumner and the Bosque Redondo reservation was a failure.

"A treaty was negotiated with the Navajo and they were allowed to return to their homeland, to a "new reservation." They were joined by the thousands of Navajo who had been hiding out in the Arizona hinterlands. This experience resulted in a more determined Navajo, and never again were they surprised by raiders of the Rio Grande valley.[7] In subsequent years, they have expanded the "new reservation" into well over 16 million acres (65,000 km²).

"Fort Sumner was abandoned in 1869 and purchased by rancher and cattle baron Lucien Maxwell. Maxwell rebuilt one of the officers' quarters into a 20-room house. On July 14, 1881, Sheriff Pat Garrett shot and killed Billy the Kid in this house, now referred to as the Maxwell House."

So Just When and Why did
Navajo Become a Ghost Town
I think I've shown the Navajo people were NEVER coming to Oklahoma. They were only headed to Eastern New Mexico, remained a few years, endured terrible hardships, and they were allowed to return home. 
So it seems the small town of Navajo was named after the small group of mountains called the “Navajo Mountains”. And they in turn were named that by the Comanche, in remembrance of a battle fought in the late 1840’s between Comanche and Navajo Warriors.

So what happened to the small town of Navajo? Well, Wikipedia has the following;
“In 1886, when the area was still claimed as Greer County, Texas, W.H. Acers and H. P. Dale opened a general store at the site that was to become Navajoe. The location was intended to take advantage of its proximity to the nearby Western Cattle Trail and the Indian Reservation at Fort Sill. [1] [5] In 1887, the town got its start when "Buckskin Joe" Works, a colorful Texas land promoter made his appearance at a Fourth of July picnic attended by area settlers, cowhands and a contingent of Comanche braves led by Quanah Parker.[5] During the festivities, it was agreed to lay out an eighty-acre town site. Buckskin Joe was to receive one-half of the lots in return for his promotion of the town and adjacent area, which he accomplished through his Texas-Oklahoma Colony, the Emigrant Guide and well publicized excursions for prospective settlers.[5]

“Also in 1887, the town received a post office designated as "Navajoe" to avoid confusion with Navajo, Arizona. In that same year, a Baptist church was organized, the first Protestant church in what would become Oklahoma Territory.[6] In 1888, Navajoe School opened.[7][8]

“Soon, more than 200 families had settled in and around Navajoe. The town became a trade center for the area's settlers, cowhands and Indians. In addition to the post office, school and churches, it had grocery stores, hardware stores, saloons, a general store, a blacksmith shop, a confectionery, a dry goods store, a wagon yard, a hotel and a cotton gin. To travel from the reservation to the town, the Kiowas rode around the north side of the mountains over the Kiowa Trail, and the Comanches came around the south side over the Comanche Trail.[1][7][8]

“A typical frontier town, Navajoe had its share of gunfights and outlaw activity. In 1891, a Kiowa uprising, resulting from the killing of one of their chiefs by a cowhand in an argument over beeves, caused area families to seek refuge in the town and a detachment to be dispatched from Fort Sill.[1]”
But why did the little town die? Simple, the railroad bypassed it. Wikipedia also tells us again;

"  . . . in 1902, the railroad bypassed Navajoe, and most of the businesses moved, buildings and all, to the new town of Headrick on the railroad. In 1920, Navajoe School was consolidated with Friendship and parts of other nearby school districts.[7][8] Today, all that remains is a picturesque, well kept cemetery, nestled at the foot of the mountains, which is still used for burials today. A granite monument, erected in its center in 1976, displays a map of the old town and pays tribute to its history.[1][4][7][8]
"The name of Navajoe, however, lives on. In 1963, the Friendship and Warren school systems joined to build a new school halfway between the two towns. The new school, which graduated its first class in 1964 and still thrives in northeastern Jackson County, was called Navajo—this time without the addition of an "e" to satisfy the postal authorities.[4]

This story also answers a question I’ve wondered about for a long time. In 1955, my father got a Civil Service job at Altus Air Force Base, where he worked for twenty years. The street we lived on, where I was raised, was named “Navajoe Street”. I have always wondered why there was an “e” at the end of it.

Here is a map of the ghost town, now in Jackson County, Oklahoma.

You hear about the Oklahoma Panhandle and hear it was referred to as "No Man's Land" here there was no law. But the same was true of "Old Greer County". Although Texas tried to claim it, the U. S. government never validated their claim. Technically, Old  Greer County was also a "No-Man's-Land", where the law was on the side of the people with the biggest, and the most guns. If you want to read more about the old ghost town, about outlaws, card sharks, the shameful shooting of a Kiowa Chief, go to the link below. It appears no attempt was even made to take his killer to trial. Locals just believed the killer's story, and that was the end of it.  

Here is all that exists of the town -- an old cemetery. Notice the "e".

Please remember that all we know is that a battle was fought at the base of the Navajo Mountains between warriors of the Comanche and Navajo Nations about 1848 or 1849 at this site. This photograph shows us that the ghost town's cemetery was also located at the base of the same smal

Mountains. Why did the settlers choose this location? The Comanche lived just across the river, and the river was just three miles away. The story these settlers heard must have come from them.
I do not know anything about Comanche or Navajo ways, as related to the remains of their warriors. Perhaps some remain nearby, both unknown and long forgotten. May this cemetery also remind us of the sacrifice of those warriors. 

I have found Quanah's version of this story:

Here's a quote from "Frontier Blood, The Saga of the Parker Family" by Jo Ella Powell Exley. The mouth of Elk Creek where Quanah Parker was born is just about twenty miles north of me. As you drive from Altus north to Granite, about 25 miles away, you drive over the creek he mentions as his birthplace, in 1848 or 9. The book starts on page 3. Below are its first lines.

Page 3 –  In the valley of Elk Creek in the Wichita Mountains a young woman gave birth. Her husband, who was a Comanche war chief, was far to the west leading his men in battle against the Navajo’s. The woman had cropped hair and skin tamed by the sun. But out of that dark face smiled the clear blue eyes of a white woman, Cynthia Ann Parker. The son in her arms was Quanah, who would become the last Principal Chief of the Comanche's.”

There's small ghost town maybe 10 miles east and 3 or 4 miles north of town named Navajo. I was wondering why it was named Navajo. In researching that, I came upon this book. There were nearby mountains, part of the Wichita's, but they have always been called the Navajo Mountains, too. I was pointed in the direction of this book as an explanation to the naming of the Mountains as well as the town.

Page 183 – “Quanah remembered other things from the distant past, such as the story his mother had told him about his birth. His tribe was at war with the Navajo’s about 1849, and most of the men had gone to the Pecos River valley to fight. Cynthia Ann, who was about 19 years old, was camped [page 184] on Elk Creek in the Wichita Mountains with the other women and children and the men who had not gone to war. Quanah described his birthplace: “In Southwest Oklahoma, in the southwest part of Kiowa County in the beautiful Wichita Mountains, is a little creek hid away between the swaying branches of the post oak and elm which cluster on its banks from one end to the other for a few yards on either side. This is Elk Creek and on the banks of it, I [Quanah] Parker was born.

“Two or three weeks after Quanah’s birth, the band heard that some Navajo’s were nearby, and most of the warriors rode away to fight. Fearing an attack, the people who were left behind moved down the creek bed to a secluded place. They often travelled in the water to keep the Navajos from tracking them. But in spite of their precautions, sixteen Navajo’s discovered their hiding place and captured two hundred horses. The men who were left in the village pursued the Navajo’s, recaptured the horses, and killed three of the enemy. The victorious group sent a message back to camp and when the warriors returned, they were met with women singing and dancing. The first woman to greet them was an old woman who was given three scalps, which she attached to the top of a pole and carried back to camp, dancing and singing a song of victory.
“That night a four day dance began. The star of the show was the old woman with the scalp pole, who danced alone with the trophies dangling from the top of the pole. Four week old Quanah was attending his first victory dance.”

So this went from 1.] a story I'd heard to 2.] a story where the Comanche had massacred a group of Navajo warriors sneaking up on them to 3.] a group of 16  Navajo warriors who'd bravely traveled through the heart of Comanche territory, and stole 200 of their horses. They were discovered, and three of their number were killed. They freed the horses they'd taken, and wisely ran for their lives. This is local southwestern Oklahoma history.  It shows warriors would travel great distances to fight ancient enemies in a time lost to us, today. We should make some effort to save these old stories, and preserve them in a true form if possible, for future generations.

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