NAVAJO CHIEF NARBONA AMBUSHES MEXICAN SLAVE EXPEDITION IN CHUSKA MOUNTAINS
During the early 1800s, the Navajo raided Mexican territory and attacked traders using the Santa Fe Trail. The Mexicans raided the Navajo often for slaves. In February 1835, Mexican Captain Blas de Hinojos and 1000 Mexican troops headed into Navajo country on a slaving expedition. On February 28, 1835, his force entered what the Navajo then-called “Copper Pass.” The Navajo chief Narbona had heard of their advance through the pass and set an ambush. Narbona held back his forces, who were hidden on both sides of the defile. When the owl hoot signal was given, the Navajos poured arrows into the column, those who had guns fired, and some threw stones or rolled rocks into the gorge. Taken by surprise, men and horses panicked and were routed. Many of the Mexicans were killed, including their leader. While the Navajo do not normally name landmarks after individuals, after this battle, “Copper Pass” was renamed “Narbona Pass.”
Sources: Locke, Raymond Friday (2008-01-01). The Book of the Navajo. Holloway House Publishing. ISBN 978-0-87687-500-1. P. 185-6, 192. Sides, Hampton (2007-10-09). Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West. Random House Digital, Inc. ISBN 978-1-4000-3110-8. P. 97. Sketch: Richard H. Kern (1821-1853), 8/31/1849 (the day Narbonna was killed by U.S. forces). Public Domain in U.S.: Pre 1/1/1925. Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 100 years or less.