BARBONCITO

( Barbon )

 

 

Navajo Chief

1820 -1871

 

Growing up in the heart of Navajo country at Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, Barboncito became a prominent Navajo headman and spiritual singer.

At different times in his life, Barboncito also was known as Hastin Dagha, Hastin Daagi("Full-bearded Man"), Bislahalani ("the Orator"), and Hozhooji Naata ("Beautyway Chanter").

A brother of Delgadito, Barboncito was born into the Ma'iideeshgiizhnii (Coyote Pass) clan about 1820.

At the start of the Mexican War in 1846, he endorsed a treaty with U.S. Army Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan that established friendly relations with the newly arrived Anglos in the Southwest.

Disliking Mexican and Pueblo Indian slave-raiding of their children, it seemed like a natural alliance for the Navajos.

However, the U.S. government was not able to stop the long-standing warfare between the Navajos and the Mexicans.

By the 1850s, Barboncito was taking little part in these skirmishes, preferring to remain at Canyon de Chelly.

On the eve of the U.S. Civil War, he counseled both sides to avoid violence and seek peace.

In 1861, he signed the treaty at Fort Fauntleroy, New Mexico, which sought peaceful solutions to these dilemmas.

With the start of the Civil War, many western garrisons were abandoned or undermanned; the Navajos decided to take advantage of this power vacuum.

Consequently, Colonel Kit Carson was brought in to subjugate the Navajos and relocate them to Fort Sumner (Bosque Redondo).

Although Manuelito and other leaders resisted Carson's scorched earth policies, a lack of supplies and food eventually forced Barboncito to surrender in September 1864.

Taken 350 miles to Fort Sumner, Barboncito found worse conditions there that he could have imagined.

In June 1865, he escaped with about five hundred followers and rejoined Manuelito in the Navajo homeland.

He surrendered a second time with twenty-one followers at Fort Wingate in November 1866.

The deplorable living conditions at Fort Sumner (the over eight thousand Navajos forced to stay there lived in foxholes with canvas coverings) were so scandalous that the U.S. government set up a meeting with General William T. Sherman and Barboncito and other chiefs.

As a result of this talks, there emerged a proposal to relocate the Navajos to Indian Terretory (Oklahoma).

Horrified at this offer, Barboncito objected vociferously, stating, "I hope to God you will not ask us to go to another country except our own. It might turn out to be another Bosque Redondo. They told us this was a good place when we came here, but it is not."

As a result of these protests, the U.S. government, in 1868, drew up a new treaty that returned the Navajos to the area within their four sacred mountains.

Although the area was only about 20 percent of their former territory, the Navajos gladly returned and expanded their reservation through purchases derived from oil monies until the 1930s.

Barboncito never became a Navajo head chief, but he was renowned for his eloquence and persuasiveness in tribal counsils.

His voice was always strong and influential during crucial deliberations.

On March 16, 1871, he died at Canyon de Chelly, respected and much loved by his people and by his Anglo adversaries.