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Biographies

Barboncito — 1820-1871

Born in the Canyon de Chelly on the present-day Navajo Reservation in Arizona Barboncito was a Ceremonial Singer, Navajo War Chief from 1863-1866 and the Head Chief during the Treaty of 1868.

A man of peace, he signed a treaty pledging friendship with the Americans during the Mexican War in 1846. This peace with the United States would not last long. By the early 1860's U.S. troops fought and negotiated with both the Apaches and Navajos to stop Indian raids on settlements in Arizona and New Mexico. Hostilities broke out near Ft. Defiance after an incident where soldiers killed Navajo horses over the issue of grazing rights. In retaliation, Barboncito along with Manuelito led an attack on Ft. Defiance almost taking the fort. Escaping back to the mountains, the Navajo warriors agreed to a peace council.

However, the peace would not last long and in 1862 when Barboncito and his brother Delgadito were ordered to relocate to Bosque Redondo in eastern New Mexico the brothers joined Manuelito in rebellions. The rebellion lasted two years until 1864 when Col. Kit Carson captured Barboncito and forced him into the relocation camp at Bosque Redondo with other Navajos and Mescalero Apaches. Conditions at the camp were terrible with many dying of starvation. Crops were destroyed by cut worms before they could be harvested, animals died and hail ravaged fields that the insects and worms had not destroyed.

Escaping again in 1865, Barboncito and 500 followers joined Manuelito, but he later surrendered in November of 1866. As Head Chief of the Navajos in 1868, he negotiated the last treaty between the Navajos and the United States. Convincing Gen. W. T. Sherman that the Navajo should be allowed to return to their ancestral lands and not sent to Indian Country in Oklahoma. Barboncito led his people back to the area of the current- day Navajo Reservation in New Mexico and Arizona. He spent the last three years of his life living up to his word, trying to keep young Navajos peaceful and not raiding settlers outside the reservation. He died in 1871.