Chiefs, agents & soldiers: conflict on the Navajo frontier, by William Haas Moore

By William Haas Moore

Ebook by means of Moore, William Haas

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That the tribe happened to blunt most government programs for Navajo ''improvement'' into the early twentieth century cannot be attributed solely to blind luck, lack of desire for Navajo land, or the incompetence of government officials. Much of the credit must go to the Navajos themselves and their leaders. These "chiefs" were often severely restrained by demands for consensus; yet they acted in behalf of a highly adaptive society determined to survive. American officials awarded authority to Navajos already in possession of some power.

Although they removed Navajo livestock from military lands and were Page xvii exposed almost daily to Navajo beggars, drunks, and prostitutes, they had come to respect the Diné and their leaders. Most of these officers had fought Indians all over the West and had concluded that the Navajos were a uniquely vital and intelligent people who wanted to improve their material condition and live at peace with their neighbors. Mixed with this admiration of the Navajos as a peaceful people, however, was a military concern about fighting a Navajo war that worried even General Sherman.

As a result, the responsibility of government recognition fell upon Delgadito, who had originally been identified as an "Enemy Navajo," one of a band of people long noted for their cooperation with Spanish, Mexican, and American representatives. Although he had briefly helped in the fight against the Americans, some doubt remained about his limited resistance during the Kit Carson campaign. 23 His position, therefore, was vulnerable. Bosque Redondo politics, however, would soon fall under the command of more Page 8 forceful diplomats and warriors who were tardy in their surrender.

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