Battle of Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

Canon de Chelle, Arizona

Canon de Chelle, Arizona

As part of the Navajo Wars, New Mexico District Military Governor General James Henry Carleton told 18 Navajo chiefs that they must surrender by July 20, 1863, and move to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, at the Bosque Redondo. When the Indians refused, General Carleton ordered Colonel Kit Carson to begin a simultaneous campaign against the Mescelaro Apache and the Navajo. Carson soon began a series of raids and skirmishes amongst the tribes.

On January 12, 1864, Carson invaded the Navajo citadel of Canyon de Chelly in present-day northern Arizona, attacking several Navajo with livestock, killing 11 of them, and taking four captives, as well as a herd of sheep and goats. Over the next few days, some skirmishes were fought between the Indians and Carson’s forces. On January 16th, 150 starving Navajo surrendered and soon joined some 8,000 of their people in the tragic “Long Walk” across New Mexico to the Bosque Redondo at Fort Sumner.

Navajo Prisoners taking the "Long Walk"

Navajo Prisoners taking the “Long Walk”

It was a successful operation for the United States Army and was the final major military engagement between the Navajo and the Americans.

In 1868, the Navajo were allowed to return to their homeland after four years of exile. The National Park Service operates the site. The Visitor Center is three miles from Route 191 in Chinle, Arizona.

Contact Information:

Canyon de Chelly National Monument
PO Box 588
Chinle, Arizona 86503

© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated February 2024.

Bosque Redondo Reservation

Bosque Redondo Reservation

Also See:

Arizona Indian Battles

Kit Carson – Legend of the Southwest

Indian War Timeline

The Navajo Nation – Largest in the U.S.