Monday, August 17, 2009

Natay Carroll

Lawerence W. Cheek in his book The Navajo Long Walk referred to it as the "The Navajo Holocaust." These darkest days of Navajo history began in 1863 when General James Carleton assigned Kit Carson to break the Navajo Strongholds, especially Canyon De Chelly, with series of military raids and heard the survivors to Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. The lands they were forced to inhabit essentially became a concentration camp, the hated Bosque Redondo. It is estimated that 1/5 of the Navajo died of exposure and starvation as a result of their forced relocation. Cheek writes that this tragic chapter of legendary horror "preserved Navajo identity instead of destroying it." Natay Carroll, son of the well known silversmith Stanley Parker, in an effort to encourage young people to reconnect with their history took that long walk solo in 2001, a distance of approximately 400 miles. Natay continues to keep the memory of his heritage alive in silver art work. The shiny silver Western belt buckle shown above portrays in relief the face of the great Navajo Chief Manuelito as seen in his famous portrait photographed in 1874.