Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Long Walk

In San Juan School District they put on this wonderful program called the long walk.  The Long Walk of the Navajo, also called the Long Walk to Bosque Redondo (Navajo: Hwéeldi), refers to the 1864 deportation and attempted ethnic cleansing of the Navajo people by the U.S. government. Navajos were forced to walk at gunpoint from their reservation in what is now Arizona to eastern New Mexico. Some 53 different forced marches occurred between August 1864 and the end of 1866. All of the 5th Grade classes from all over San Juan county come together to learn about the Indians in their area and how they were treated,  how they survived and sustained themselves.  It was so well put together, I was very impressed with the work that the Blanding teacher Mr. Turk? put into it. He was dressed to the nines in his full Confederate solider uniform.  So we didn't really walk all that far, but when we did we were in two lines with a two inch diameter rope in between us.  We were given our daily rations which was a small square of hardtack, I saw some hardtack along the trail and I am pretty sure the Navajos didn't drop their hardtack.  The 5th graders were told to hang on to the rope and not let go.  We were asked to walk in reverence with no talking.  We were also asked to go slow, and to swing wide.  There was also a guard on horse back with a bull whip reminding us to keep moving, no talking, and keep our hands on the rope.  At the beginning we did so well, but after we had stopped at the College and took part in a few stations,  we were feeling our oats and we forgot to swing wide, and wiped quite a few 5th graders out.  I shouldn't make fun, but it was so funny to watch the kids get taken out.  The rope would be smashed against a tree, and kid after kid would smash into the tree and fall to the ground, but they had been told not to let go of the rope, so by golly they were going to hold on to that rope even if it meant getting a mouthful of Juniper bush.  (Just so you know what a bad person I am I am laughing so hard that I am crying just writing this.)  As we are on our hike we are stopped a few times to talk about what the Indians went through and what they daily diet was. We learn about kindness, and ethics, and about being prepared.  When we reached the end of our walk we were greeted by warm fires, chili and fry bread. Mr Turk had Native Americans there to serve the children.   I was so pleased and felt like I had learned a lot that day, and was I was hoping that the 5th graders in Parkers' class had done the same.  So as I was walking back to my truck (I truly am a snob I only drive myself on field trips!)  I overheard the kids asking their teacher when they were going to get to eat their sack lunches!  Really truly I think it might take todays' kids a few long walks before they lose their sense of entitlement. 
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1 comment:

Katie said...

So I might be a little biased, but Mr Turk is probably the best teacher ever in the whole entire world. I'm not kidding. The kids in his class would rather stay in and listen to him read than go out to recess! He has turned Ethan into a history expert (no small fete for a FAS kid who has no memory) He makes every kid feel like they are the most important person in the world, AND he thinks I'm a good mom and takes my advice about how to work with Ethan (first time that has EVER happened BTW:) I'm glad you had a good time on the long walk. I wish I would have been there. Thanks for posting pictures.