Opinion

Marc Simmons: Column on To'Hajiilee drew most comments





"My sketch of the history of the Tó Hajiilee Navajos, until recently known as the Cañoncito Navajos, brought the most responses of any column this year.

Those are the people whose reservation is west of Albuquerque and north of Interstate 40 and who remain little known to outsiders.

As I had written, non-Indians have difficulty in pronouncing Tó Hajiilee, much less in remembering how to spell it.

Frank Turley sent me a letter saying that he has heard Native speakers pronounce the name and “the Tó is heavily accented, while the T sounds almost like a D, something difficult for Anglos to hear.” He adds that “the J is pronounced as our S in the word pleasure.”

Robert Ulibarrí, a member of this tribal band, informed me as follows: “Tó Hajiileehé Navajos were not even part of the Navajo Nation until 1949 when the Cañoncito Band of Navajos Act was passed by Congress. Even now my people are semi-autonomous from the larger Rez.”

Ulibarrí adds: “I was told by my elders that we settled the area during the big walk from Fort Sumner.” That occurred in 1868 when the Army sent Navajo prisoners overland, back from captivity on the Pecos River to their own country below the Four Corners."

Get the Story:
Marc Simmons: Trail Dust: Time for the year-end roundup for 2012 (The Santa Fe New Mexican 12/29)

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