Skip to main content

Our History

Fort Wingate

Wingate Elementary School, home of the “Bearcubs”

Wingate Elementary School is in a beautiful setting at the foothills of Cibola National Park in Fort Wingate, New Mexico. The fort began as Fort Fauntleroy, later Fort Lyon, then in 1868, it was named Fort Wingate. The Fort Wingate site is surrounded by reminders of its historical roots in the New Mexico, Zuni, and Navajo (Dine') Nation's history within the United States. To the south lies the entrance to Cibola National Park, while Fort Wingate Army Depot is the school's western neighbor, with the nearest township of Gallup, NM, located twelve (12) miles further west. You can find the Zuni Mountains and Zuni Pueblo to the southwest, while the Navajo (Dine') Nation is the northern neighboring community. To the east lies the Continental Divide, and three (3) miles to the north is the busy Interstate Highway, I-40.

This region is home to diverse cultures, including the Navajo (Dine’), Zuni, Hispanic, and American cultures. Fort Wingate has a rich history encompassing early American and New Mexican history and the history of the Navajo (Dine') Nation. It served as a stopping point for early American settlers as they moved westward and as a place of respite for the Navajo (Dine’) people as they returned from Fort Sumner in 1868. Fort Wingate was the site of many important historical events, the most significant being its use as a training ground for the Navajo Code Talkers during World War II.

In 1925, the Office of Indian Affairs founded the Charles H. Burke Vocational School at the Fort Wingate site. It was later renamed Wingate School in 1936 and became a traditional academic program serving grades 1 through 12. Eventually, a high school was built a quarter mile to the north, while the remaining campus served elementary school grades K-8. However, between 1936 and 2004, making improvements to the original complex was challenging due to its status as an official historical site. As a result, in 2005, a new elementary school campus was constructed a mile from the original Fort Wingate site.

Although the school has undergone several changes, our vision of "Success for All" remains the same.

An official website of the U.S. Department of the Interior

Looking for U.S. government information and services?