Beginning of a nightmare—Control of Navajo lands and people

Around the beginning of the Civil War, General James Carleton was sent to declare war on Navajo land. The Americans were not just seeking victory over the Navajos; the intent purpose of the land was for economic ventures by way of mining and grazing livestock. Carleton later brought on Christopher "Kit" Carson to carry out his heinous plan to control Navajo people. Carson was successful as he brought in around 700 soldiers and volunteers in 1863. He established his camp at Fort Defiance where he spent his time concentrating on his efforts in the Canyon de Chelly region. Orders were given to demolish homes, chop down orchards, steal livestock, and destroy fields.

By December of that year, the Navajos had taken a turn for the worse and many had succumbed to starvation and poverty. The winter of 1863-64 was a particularly harsh one as temperatures became extremely cold. As food sources continued to diminish, tribal members were forced to subsist on limited game, pine nuts, wild potatoes, cedar berries, and yucca fruits. For the Navajos, enemies surrounded them and the few who were sparred, allowed tribal members to take shelter with them.