Kit Carson charged with genocide of the Navajos | VailDaily.com
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Kit Carson charged with genocide of the Navajos

Allen Best/Special to the Daily

Why not? The famed fur-trapper, scout and Indian agent has been on trial in the minds of historians, Indian activists and others ever since he died about 135 year ago.

Kit Carson’s deed in question has to do with the war against the Navajos in the late 1860s. He was working for the U.S. Army when ordered to herd 8,000 defeated Navajos on a 400-mile march, called the Long Walk, to the new Bosque Redondo Indian Reservation in Oklahoma. Many died along the way, and others starved once they reached the reservation.

Bitterness remains to this day, even in Taos, which was his home base for most of his adult life. At the mock trial, Carson was accused of being a “ruthless Indian killer bent on genocide.”

But Carson defenders said Carson was only carrying out orders – and not all of them. He refused orders to kill all male Indians. Others testified to Carson’s understanding of the Indians and his sensitivity toward them. Others noted that he had repeatedly tried to quit his job with the Army. And finally, it was noted that the Navajos had been guilty of raids, murders, and so on, which is what led up to the war.

The jury of middle-school students adopted essentially a “oppose the war but support the troops” position. By a vote of 10-to-2, they convicted Carson of insubordination of his superior in the U.S. Army, but voted 8-to-4 against convicting him of genocide.

Dinner Party story recreated once again

ALPINE MEADOWS, Calif. – What school child doesn’t know about the Donner Party of 1844? Setting out for California in the days before trains, roads and – well, even before the Gold Rush – the trekkers took a wrong turn in Utah. Thus delayed, they trudged into the Sierra Nevada just as early and heavy snows arrived. Resorting to cannibalism, some settlers survived, but dozens perished.

A film crew for the Discovery Channel set up camp this spring at Squaw Valley to recreate the story. A series of epic spring snowstorms added to the realism, says the Tahoe World (May 1). The segment will be broadcast Oct. 15 in the channel’s “Unsolved History” series.


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