Fort Sumner Historic Site / Bosque Redondo Memorial

On the plains of southeastern New Mexico, one of the darkest chapters in the American story played out. Today, it’s becoming a place of healing for Navajo and Mescalero Apache peoples—and a center for learning from the past for all people. In the 1860s, 9,500 people from Apache and Diné nations were chased down, rounded up, marched for hundreds of miles, and interned on these acres where the corn would not grow and the Pecos River failed to sustain them. For many years, this site told only stories of soldiers, cowboys, and outlaws until Native advocates persuaded the state to alter course.

In 1991, the Bosque Redondo Memorial joined with Fort Sumner Historic Site. With its 2005 museum designed by Navajo architect David Sloan, the site set early benchmarks into exploring a tragedy of history. In the last few years, that effort gained new strength. Site managers built bonds with tribal peoples and began building the trust necessary to more deeply delve into that history and also examine where its tentacles lead today.

This latest mission has as its galvanizing principle the knowledge that this history is best told by the descendants of those who experienced it, pushing the site onto the cutting edge of how historic institutions speak of the past with 21st-century best practices. With the Campaign for New Mexico History, Fort Sumner Historic Site/Bosque Redondo Memorial will:

Work has begun on redeveloping the museum’s permanent exhibition based on input from the Navajo and Mescalero Apache tribes. This funding would bring that exhibition to life.

From formal interviews to drop-in sessions with visitors, the site will be able to record visitor’s memories in order to preserve the history of the region and promote healing among sovereign nations.

This new pathway will wind through and around the site, allowing visitors to follow in the footsteps of the ancestors during key events in its history.

These structures will introduce visitors to the traditional homes of the tribal homelands and create spaces for ceremony and prayer.