Navajo leader Ganado Mucho (Many cattle)

Ganado Mucho, which means many cattle, was born into the Tatsohnii (Big Water) Clan of the Navajo, or Diné (Of the people), and was a Navajo leader during the tribe’s difficult transition to reservation life
Ganado Mucho, like Manuelito, had also retreated to the Grand Canyon and lived among the Coyoteros, but he was a different kind of leader.

Of both Hopi and Navajo ancestry, Ganado Mucho was a cautious man who was inclined toward diplomacy. He was, after all, a wealthy man with large herds of cattle and sheep. His tranquility was, nonetheless, severely disturbed by the unwise actions of the American military in the late 1850s.

Ganado Mucho Navajo Leader

Ganado Mucho Navajo Leader

It would have been unremarkable had Ganado Mucho gone to war, but he did not, even when his fellow leaders did. During the 1859-61 war, he remained at home in his territory west of the Defiance Mountains and maintained neutrality. His policy proved to be successful.

When private New Mexican expeditions marched into Navajo territory in 1862, in search of livestock  and slaves, he still managed to avoid conflict. Kit Carson’s invasion the following year was a different matter, however. Carson’s orders called for the capture of all Navajos.

Already filled with distrust of Anglo-Americans, Ganado Mucho rejected the capitulation of his fellow ricos and retreated. But by the spring of 1866, harassed by Pueblo, New Mexican, and Ute raiders, he had had enough. Ganado Mucho surrendered and was escorted to the Bosque Redondo. Although his arrival at the reservation with his large herds had some of the trappings of a majestic spectacle, it was marked with tragedy, for two of his daughters had been taken as slaves en route.
By the time Barboncito, Manuelito, and Ganado Mucho had reached the reservation, the Bosque Redondo had become an administrative nightmare. Because of its expense, Carleton’s experiment had already come under considerable scrutiny. Investigations by various federal officials had become commonplace, especially after the Sand Creek Massacre of Cheyennes in 1864.

One of the most famous of these investigations was a special joint congressional committee headed by Senator James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin. It was not, however, solely concerned with Navajos. was thus that Barboncito, Manuelito, and Ganado Mucho were propelled into leadership. These men found themselves  faced with a difficult situation. The Navajos could not afford to be malleable wards. This fact was dramatically illustrated just weeks after Ganado Mucho’s surrender.
More than one hundred Comanches attacked the Navajo horse herds. They killed the herders, one of whom was Ganado Mucho’s son, and stole two hundred head. Soldiers managed to locate their trail, pursued them, and eventually engaged them in combat on July 14. The battle, however, was indecisive.

The Comanches fled east, and the soldiers could not keep up. The commander of Fort Sumner, Captain William McCleave, placed picket posts to the east to protect Navajo property and lives, but even McCleave doubted the effectiveness of this defense.
A year later, this spectacle would move Ganado Mucho to rare eloquence. Stricken by personal tragedy, he addressed New Mexican Superintendent of Indian Affairs A. Baldwin Norton in bitter irony. He pointed out that the Navajos had come to the Bosque because they had been promised safety. But what had they gained when their enemies were better armed than they and the army could not protect them?

Ganado Mucho’s immediate instincts remained in character despite his caustic remarks, made after twelve months of rumination. He apparently did not organize resistance or plan an escape; instead, he reluctantly cooperated.

Source: Chiefs, Agents & Soldiers: Conflict on the Navajo Frontier

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