June 13, 2009

Navajos split over Long Walk trail

'Long Walk' Trail Divides Indian Tribes

By Felicia FonsecaIn a culture that teaches not to revisit suffering, a proposal to memorialize routes that Navajo and Mescalero Apache Indians marched as they were forced from their homelands has stirred up painful memories.

The march in the 1860s from tribal lands to a desolate tract in eastern New Mexico, known as the Long Walk, led to the deaths of thousands of American Indians.

So while the federal designation as a national historic trail is supported by some tribal members who believe that healing and appreciation for the resilience of their ancestors will come only through education, memorializing such an event goes against some elder members' beliefs.

"For those who are willing to talk about that, it's a form of healing," said Judy Martin, a cultural specialist for the Navajo Department of Historic Preservation. "But the older people, they still treat it as taboo" to revisit a site associated with death, she said.
Comment:  For more on commemorating Indian "trails," see Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride and Potawatomi Trail of Death.

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