EXCERPT from The Navajo Long Walk: 140 Years Later – Part 4 by LTC John Umberger (photos by J.Umberger)
Published in the November 23rd issue of Vivacini! To experience a “real magazine”, read the article in the flipping book version here: Vivacini! 23 November 2012.
I returned to Window Rock, Arizona on a warm day in May and began the 17-mile
walk to Gallup, New Mexico. In this area, the wide valley with its red rock walls narrows
with a series of hills and steep declines. Walking this terrain was difficult just as it had to have been for the old, the sick and the
young on the Long Walk. I walked seven miles the
first day and 10 miles the second day.
As I walked into Gallup, a 20-30 mile per hour wind kicked up—I had to lean into the wind with every step.
From Gallup a wide valley opens out from red rock country and rolling hills lead east towards
the Rio Grande River. East of Gallup, near a spring known as Ojo del Oso, I made a stop at Ft. Wingate.
In 1863, it was known as Fort Lyon. When the Navajo returned home in 1868, the Army closed
the original Ft. Wingate and designated Ft. Lyon as Ft. Wingate. Today, the fort’s 19th Century buildings
still house an Indian boarding school and is a training site for the National Guard.
Day after day, I continued my walk along old Rt. 66, steadily moving eastward at 10-11 miles a
day and camping out at night.nNear Grants, I began to see Tsoodzil or (Mount Taylor) for the
first time. The Navajo people believe their creator wants them to live between four sacred mountains.
Tsoodzil (Mount Taylor) marks the southeast corner of Dine’tah.When the Navajo saw Tsoodzil,
they must have known they were leaving their own homeland for an unknown land.
Be sure to read the rest of the story in the flipping book version here: Vivacini! 23 November 2012.