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Sun Kissed

Premiere Date: October 18, 2012

'Sun Kissed' in Context

The Long Walk

The Long Walk was the climax of a brutal war of near-extermination waged against the Navajo people, beginning in 1862 when Americans invaded the Southwest. More than 10,000 Navajos were forced to walk 500 miles—those who could not keep up were shot—and subsequently imprisoned in a camp called Bosque Redondo. After four years and 2,380 deaths, they were sent back to their homeland.



The Long Walk was the climax of a brutal war of near-extermination waged against the Navajo people, beginning in 1862 when Americans invaded the Southwest. More than 10,000 Navajos were forced to walk 500 miles—those who could not keep up were shot—and subsequently imprisoned in a camp called Bosque Redondo. After four years and 2,380 deaths, they were sent back to their homeland.

The surviving Navajo were a devastated population. In Sun Kissed, geneticist Robert Erickson estimates that the war reduced the tribe to no more than 2,000 adults of reproductive age, and all 300,000 Navajos living today are descended from that limited pool of ancestors. The result, Erickson says, was a “genetic bottleneck” that allowed recessive genes like those that cause XP (relatively rare among the general population) to present in all living members of the tribe, which in turn led to the disease manifesting itself more often.

The Long Walk also marked the beginning of the modern-day Navajo Nation and its assimilation into American culture. Historian Harry Myers tells Dorey and Yolanda in Sun Kissed that the ulterior motives of the U.S. military were to convert the Navajo people to Christianity and assimilate them into mainstream American society.

Caption: Dorey meeting his great grandmother, NM   Credit: Adi Lavy

» Donovan, Bill. “Census: Navajo Enrollment Tops 300,000.” Navajo Times, July 7, 2011.
» KUED. “The Long Walk: Tears of the Navajo.”
» NPR. “The Navajo Nation’s Own ‘Trail of Tears.’”
» PBS. "The Navajo's Ancient Roots."



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