Friday, March 30, 2007

Anne Frank at Bosque Redondo: So the world will remember

A new exhibit opens at Bosque Redondo on April 4, 2007, bringing the history of the Nazi holocaust in Europe to the site of the United States holocaust for Navajos and Apaches in northern New Mexico.

PHOTOS: (L) Navajo and Apache children imprisoned at Bosque Redondo in the 1860s. (R) Anne Frank. Photos NM State Monuments

The spirit of these children lives

Anne Frank Exhibit Opens at Bosque Redondo

FORT SUMNER, NM -- A compelling exhibition depicting anti-Semitism, racism, ethnic cleansing, and genocide told through the story of Anne Frank, will be on display at Bosque Redondo State Monument at Fort Sumner from April 4 through May 11, 2007. The opening reception will be held from 5:00-7:00 pm on April 3rd.

The exhibition, "Anne Frank: A History for Today," is part of a series of educational programming, including a Long Walk Symposium for educators in June 2007, planned to enhance awareness of the Long Walk and incarceration of Navajo and Mescalero Apache people at Fort Sumner during the 1860s. “The Anne Frank exhibit will help connect the tragic events at Fort Sumner to the larger context of human rights abuses that have taken place across the globe,” says Mary Ann Cortese, President of Friends of Bosque Redondo. The Friends group is sponsoring the exhibit. The Long Walk Symposium is being made possible by a special legislative appropriation.

The incarceration of native people at Fort Sumner is one of the most tragic periods in U.S. history. During the expansionist fervor of the pre-Civil War period, war and a scorched earth policy conducted by the U.S. Army reduced the Navajo population residing in the New Mexico Territory to 10,000. The remaining Navajo were relocated to Bosque Redondo Reservation, along with 400 Mescalero Apache, on the one million-acre Bosque Redondo Indian Reservation and its overseer, Fort Sumner, were located. Thousands of Navajo people became ill and died during the long journey and incarceration. However, unlike the story of Anne Frank, the events at Bosque Redondo are not well known.

The widely read story of Anne Frank, the young Jewish teenager who went into hiding in Amsterdam with her family when the Germans invaded Poland then Holland, and began the persecution of Jews, has become a classic. Anne’s diary is timeless and continues to resonate today.

The 20th century was one of repeated genocides from the slaughter of Armenians during World War I to the Holocaust during World War II to the post-1945 era in Cambodia and Rwanda, Kosovo and Darfur.

The exhibition provides a powerful experience that will encourage ongoing individual and community dialogue and education. “It is our hope that the classroom and community discussions that will take place as a result of this exhibit and its connection with Bosque Redondo will aid the healing process,” said Angie Manning, Monument Manager. “This Monument takes seriously its charge to inform and educate—even when the subject matter is sensitive,” she adds.

The history of Anne Frank is the leading thread throughout the exhibition. The family’s story reflects world events during and after the Nazi dictatorship. The exhibition juxtaposes photographs of the Frank family with those of historical events of the time, and shows how persecuted people such as the Franks were affected by political decisions and by the actions of individuals.

Anne Frank: A History for Today covers five periods in the Frank family life. The exhibition commences with her early childhood in Frankfurt am Main (1929-1933). The exhibition moves on to the period between 1933-1939 with the Nazi’s taking political control of Germany and the family fleeing to Holland. The third period, between 1939-1942 has the Germans first invading Poland then Holland. It is in July 1942, with persecution of the Jews taking place throughout the conquered lands, that the Frank family goes into hiding in Amsterdam. During this period the young Anne Frank writes her diary. The fifth period, between 1945 and today illustrates the defeat of the Axis powers and the end of Nazi tyranny. Otto Frank, Anne’s father, discovers that neither his daughter nor his wife survived the war. However, he is given Anne’s diary by one of the persons who gave shelter to the family during the occupation. Otto Frank publishes the diary in 1947, and it is eventually translated into more than 59 languages. This final section discusses what happens after 1945 to survivors, what types of human rights laws have been passed, and the continuing struggle against racism and discrimination of people today.

The Anne Frank exhibit was developed by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and is sponsored in North America by the New York based Anne Frank Center USA, Inc.

When the “Anne Frank: A History for Today” opens at Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner State Monument on April 4th, visitors will be among the first to experience the new Tour Mates Audio Tour of the site. The Friends of Bosque Redondo who sponsored the exhibit also gifted the audio tour and equipment to be enjoyed by visitors.

The audio tour was produced by Eliza Wells Smith, author of the Monuments book Bridges to the Past. Actor Wes Studie is the narrator for the tour. Wes Studie is joined by the voice and song of Navajo storyteller and author Blackhorse Mitchell, as well as Judge Steven Pfeffer, and television broadcaster and author, Yolanda Nava, who serves as marketing Director for NM State Monuments.

The sensitively written and narrated audio tour is an important addition to the Bosque Redondo experience. 8,500 Navajo and more than 450 Mescalero Apache were incarcerated during the 1860s at the one million acre Bosque Redondo Indian Reservation, during one of the most tragic periods of U.S. military history. It was a time when the government policy was to eradicate and contain native people who threatened the westward expansion of settlers from the Eastern part of the United States. Told in both Navajo and English, the tour moves the visitor from the main exhibit area to the scenic landscape out-of-doors--past Treaty Rock, the Observation Deck that overlooks the Pecos River that separated the Navajo and Mescalero Apache who were captives there, the Old Visitors Center, and the Maxwell House where Billy the Kid was killed, then back to the Bosque Redondo Memorial.

The Anne Frank exhibit is part of a series of exhibits and programming designed to initiate a dialogue about the larger issue of human rights. School children around the world read the German-Jewish teenagers story about her experiences during the Nazi regime during World War II.

“We are most grateful to the Friends of Bosque Redondo for sponsoring the exhibit and audio tour. Their generosity will help expand our visitor’s understanding of the tragic events that occurred here, and hopefully will forward our ability to engage students, teachers and the public in a larger dialogue about human rights, in the hopes of preventing such abuses in the future”, said monument manager Angie Manning.

Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner is located 3 miles east of Fort Sumner, Highway 60/84, south 3/5 miles on Billy the Kid Road. For more information call 505. 355-2573, or visit
Admission to the Anne Frank exhibit is free. General admission to the Monument is $5.00 for adults. Children under 16 are free.

Louise Benally Censored: Iraq compared to Bosque Redondo

The following comments by Louise Benally of Big Mountain, comparing the Long Walk and imprisonment in Bosque Redondo to the war in Iraq, were censored by Indian Country Today.
Pressed to publish a correction to the published article by this reporter, the newspaper refused.

Navajos at Big Mountain resisting forced relocation view the 19th Century prison camp of Bosque Redondo and the war in Iraq as a continuum of U.S. government sponsored terror.

Louise Benally of Big Mountain remembered her great-grandfather and other Navajos driven from their beloved homeland by the U.S. Army on foot for hundreds of miles while witnessing the murder, rape andstarvation of their family and friends.

“I think these poor children had gone through so much, but, yet they had the will to go on and live their lives. If it weren’t for that, wewouldn’t be here today.

“It makes me feel very sad and I apply this to the situation in Iraq. I wonder how the Native Americans in the combat zone feel about killing innocent lives.”

Looking at the faces of the Navajo and Apache children in the Bosque Redondo photo, Benally said, “I think the children in the picture look concerned and maybe confused. It makes me think of what the children in Iraq must be going through right now.

“The U.S. military first murders your people and destroys your way oflife while stealing your culture, then forces you to learn their evilways of lying and cheating,” Benally said.

The newspaper refused to publish a correction. Louise's comments were censored from this article by the editors:

Brenda Norrell (former staff reporter)

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1 comment:

Annie said...

This is my first time reading about Fort Sumner. I heard about Anne Frank at school but never heard about Fort Sumner not even in high school. Why the school never mention it. I still don't get it. So I went to google myself and tried to read it on my own. History should never been hidden to all of should be share and learn...Thank you for posting this blog.