FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2022
Fort Sumner, NM - New Mexico Historic Sites (NMHS) announces the grand opening commemoration event for the permanent interpretive exhibition “Bosque Redondo: A Place of Suffering…A Place of Survival” on Saturday, May 28, 2022, at Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner Historic Site. A full day of events is planned, including welcome speeches, music, and cultural dance performances from Navajo (Diné) and Mescalero Apache (Ndé) community members, activities for children, and a complimentary barbeque lunch for the first 500 guests made possible by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and the Friends of Bosque Redondo Memorial. A Navajo rug and Native American art auction will be held in the afternoon. Tribal partners, VIP guests, all the collaborative partners, and the public are invited.
“Why don’t you tell our story?” asked a letter left at the Fort Sumner Historic Site Diné Traveler Shrine in the summer of 1990. The question came from 20 visiting Diné students who saw that their ancestral trauma had been erased from the historical record and requested that the true history of the Long Walk be told through the site’s interpretation.
The Long Walk took place between 1863 and 1868 when the U.S. government forced the relocation of Diné and Ndé peoples from their homeland in present-day Arizona to eastern New Mexico, across more than 350 miles. Over those five years, about 9,500 Diné and 500 Ndé were tortured and imprisoned by the U.S. military on the Bosque Redondo Reservation.
Designed through a partnership with the Navajo Nation and the Mescalero Apache Tribe, “A Place of Suffering…A Place of Survival” features voices for the first time from the communities most affected by the Long Walk in the form of oral histories (in English, Diné, and Ndé), contemporary quotes, and imagery to explain what life was like before, during, and after the Bosque Redondo Indian Reservation system.
The interpretive exhibition uniquely incorporates the outside world to the inside gallery using skylights and fiberoptic light bundles. There are more than 10,000 light bundles, illuminated by natural light, each one representing a Diné or Ndé individual who was forced to march to the Bosque Redondo Indian Reservation.
The interpretive exhibition also features state-of-the-art digital interactives including a Treaty of 1868 touchscreen to allow visitors to hear each page in the Diné language or explore how each article affected the Diné later in life, and another interactive that features a reflection touchscreen that facilitates the incorporation of visitors’ responses to questions posed by the interpretive exhibition into the gallery vis a vis projected video. Finally, a decompression room at the conclusion of the interpretive exhibition creates a space where community members can continue to contemplate their thoughts through journals, a small reading library, and an exhibit on the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. The Sites of Conscience is a worldwide network of over 300 historic sites, museums, and memory initiatives that connects past struggles to today’s movements for human rights. Bosque Redondo Memorial partnered with six sites from around the world to let visitors know that the story of struggle did not end with Fort Sumner but continues today.
In addition to the permanent interpretive exhibition at Bosque Redondo Memorial, NMHS has prepared a website, funded by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, designed to complement the evolving nature of the interpretive exhibition itself. Visitors to the website will have access to a timeline of events during and after the Long Walk and the internment of the Diné and Ndé at Bosque Redondo during the 1860s, as well as thousands of digitized archival documents and artwork. In tandem, NMHS launched an effort to transcribe all these documents through continual public participation. NMHS has also collaborated with tribal partners to make space for recordings of their oral histories as they pertain to life before, during, and after the Long Walk period. Tribal community members can send in written documents, video, or audio recordings directly to the website, so that everyone has opportunity to contribute. The website can be found here: archive-bosqueredondomemorial.nmhistoricsites.org.
The grand opening celebration on May 28, 2022, was originally planned for October 9, 2021, although the site has been welcoming visitors to experience the new interpretive exhibition since its soft opening on July 1, 2021.
Schedule of Events:
10:00-11:30 AM Cultural Dances/Presentations
11:00 AM-1:00 PM Catered Lunch/Vendors Available
1:00-2:00 PM Keynote Speakers
3:00 PM Navajo Rug and Native Art Auction
*10:00 AM-2:00 PM Kids’ Corner Available to Kids
About Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner Historic Site
The Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner Historic Site delivers visitors into the heart of history and tragedy. In 1863, some 10,000 Navajos were forced to make the “Long Walk,” 450 miles across New Mexico to the Bosque Redondo Indian Reservation, or H’weeldi, meaning place of suffering. Hundreds of Ndé were also interned there. Bosque Redondo Memorial was created in 2005 and revitalized in 2021 with strong support from the Diné and Ndé, and designed by Diné architect David Sloan in the shape of a hogan and tepee. The permanent interpretive exhibition features evolving interactives, an interpretive trail, and programs for visitors.
About New Mexico Historic Sites New Mexico Historic Sites is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of the Board of Regents for the Museum of New Mexico. Programs and exhibits are generously supported by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and its donors. The New Mexico Historic Sites system was established in 1931 by an Act for the Preservation of the Scientific Resources of New Mexico. The eight Historic Sites include Coronado, Fort Selden, Fort Stanton, Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner Historic Site, Jemez, Lincoln, and Los Luceros.