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Manuelito (1818–1893) was one of the principal war chiefs of the Navajo people before, during and after the Long Walk Period. His name means Little Manuel in Spanish. He was born to the Bitʼahnii Clan, near the Bear’s Ears in southeastern Utah about 1818. As any Navajo, he was known by different names depending upon context. He was Ashkii Diyinii (Holy Boy), Dahaana Baadaané (Son-in-Law of Late Texan), Hastiin Chʼilhaajiní (“Black Weeds”) and as Nabááh Jiłtʼaa (War Chief, “Warrior Grabbed Enemy”) to other Diné, and non-Navajo nicknamed him “Bullet Hole”.
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Manuelito was a prominent Navajo leader who rallied his nation against the oppression of the United States military. For several years he led a group of warriors in resisting federal efforts to forcibly remove the Navajo people to Bosque Redondo, New Mexico via the Long Walk in 1864. After being relocated to Bosque Redondo, Manuelito was among the leaders who signed the 1868 treaty, ending a period of imprisonment in United States government internment camps and establishing a reservation for the Navajo.
- 1835 Battle of Washington Pass, Manuelito took part in Narbona’s victorious party that defeated a large raiding force led by Captain Blas de Hinojos at what today is called Narbona Pass.
- 1846 One of the signatories of the 22 November 1846 Lava Springs Treaty..
- 1849 Present when Col. John M. Washington met with his father-in-law Chief Narbona in the Chuska Mountains and Narbona was killed.
- 1853 He and Chief Aguila Negra visited Lt Ransom detachment at the mouth of Chaco River, where Chief Archuleta joined them and created a disturbance.
- July, Chief Sarcillos Largos retires and Manuelito was elected to speak for the Navajos. This was at the time when a proposed treaty to separate Navajo and Mexican/American grazing lands was under consideration.
- 1855, July Zarcillos Largos and Manuelito signed The Meriwether Treaty on July 18, 1855 at Laguna Negra with Americans. Manuelito was recognized as ‘official chief’ and receives a peace medal.
- 1856 Major Kendrick at Ft. Defiance spoke to Manuelito about stock stolen by some Navajo (one of many times Manuelito filled this role).
- 1857 He objects to army pastures around Ft. Defiance, but relents.
- 1858 Manuelito told Major Brooks, commander Ft. Defiance that Navajos need the pastures (Ewell’s Hay Camp) around the Fort for their livestock. Manuelito’s band moved their stock closer and a skirmish happened and Manuelito lost over 100 cattle and other livestock.
- 1858 Major Brooks’ servant molested a Navajo woman and, as custom dictated, Navajos killed the offender. After a brief campaign both sides signed a treaty.
- 1860 July, 50 Mexican/Americans from Cubero, NM raid summer camps. Manuelito and Sarcillos Largos set a successful ambush at Whiskey Lake in the Chuska Mountains. 40 of the raiders died.
- December 400 volunteer citizens mount a campaign against the Navajos
- 1861 Major Canby, Commander at Ft Wingate submitted a list with Navajo chiefs and Manuelito was listed as 5th.
- 1864, Start of Long Walk period. His band are still in Dinetah, perhaps southwest of the Little Colorado River.
- 1865 Jesus Arviso, Navajo interpreter, was sent by Major Eaton of Ft. Wingate to tell Manuelito to come in.
Later Herrero Grande and Fecundo were sent from Ft. Sumner to Zuni to tell him to come in.
- Utes attacked Manuelito’s camp .
- 1866 July. Zunis and Utes attack Manuelito’s band south of Sierra Escudilla (near Springerville AZ).
- September. Manuelito and his band come to Ft. Wingate and go to Bosque Redondo. Ganado Mucho and his band went to the Bosque from Escudilla by another route.
- 1867, September Manuelito leaves to raid Utes, after Comanches and then Utes raid Navajos at Bosque Redondo. He and his band returned.
- 1868 He is one of the signers of the Treaty of Bosque Redondo which ended the Long Walk.
Post Long Walk
Manuelito, as he was known to the white settlers and government forces, was Ashkii Diyinii, Holy Boy, to his own people, later to earn the name Haastin Chʼil Haajiní, or Sir Black Reeds, named for ‘the place among the black reeds’.
Upon his return, he again lived east of Tohatchi. He became principal chief after Barboncito of the eastern Navajos.
- 1872 Manuelito was appointed as head of the new Navajo police force.
- 1876 Talked to President Grant regarding land problems involving encroachment and potential leases of treaty given lands.
- 1879 Crops failed and Navajos raided citizens and Zunis. Manuelito and Ganado Mucho arrested 40 men as thieves or witches.
- 1880 Meets President Hayes in Santa Fe. Also suggests that he be made “Chief of Scouts” to control whiskey traffic in eastern part of reservation.
- 1882 Navajos and white settlers argue over land that Manuelito says is theirs. He sends his two sons to Carlisle Indian Industrial School. He requests pipes for water and receives a permit to hunt off the reservation with 20 men.
- 1883 Manuelito’s two sons fall sick at Carlisle Indian Industrial School. One son dies at the school, the other returns home, dying soon after his return. Agent reports 4,000 Navajo follow Manuelito in eastern reservation area.
- 1886 Manuelito and Mariano were sent out to recruit Navajo Scouts for the Army.
- 1891 Army pays call upon him and Tom Torlino, and he gives advice about improving flow of springs.
- 1892 Is called to Ft. Wingate to discuss certain renegade Navajos who were raiding stock belonging to non-Navajos.
- 1893 Manuelito dies from measles complicated by pneumonia