Remembering the Sand Creek Massacre 150 Years Later

heyenne Arapaho tribal officials 150 years after the Sand Creek Massacre on site to remember those lost.

heyenne Arapaho tribal officials 150 years after the Sand Creek Massacre on site to remember those lost.

SAND CREEK, COLORADO — As National Native American Heritage winds down, many descendants of those killed at the Sand Creek Massacre and others from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes were on hand to remember their ancestors lost at one of tragic massacres in United States history that occurred over a two-day period beginning on November 29, 1864.

It was 150 years ago this weekend when members of the Colorado Territory militia, led by U.S. Army Colonel John Chivington.  Over 100, mostly women and children, were killed  while the many of the tribal men were out hunting.

Unfortunately, most American history students will never be taught about the atrocitiescommitted against American Indians, such as the Sand Creek Massacre. 

The following was posted yesterday, Saturday, November 29, 2014, on the Cheyenne Arapaho Facebook page. It is used here with permission:

Saturday, current Cheyenne and Arapaho Lt. Governor Cornell Sankey, along with others, raise the Sand Creek flag in commemoration.

Saturday, current Cheyenne and Arapaho Lt. Governor Cornell Sankey, along with others, raise the Sand Creek flag in commemoration.

Today, current Cheyenne and Arapaho Lt. Governor Cornell Sankey, along with others, raise the Sand Creek flag in commemoration.

Today we pause to remember 150 years ago and the Sand Creek Massacre. Here’s the story….

On November 29, 1864, seven hundred members of the Colorado Territory militia embarked on an attack of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian villages. The militia was led by U.S. Army Col. John Chivington, a Methodist preacher, as well as a freemason. After a night of heavy drinking by the soldiers, Chivington ordered the massacre of the Indians. Over two-thirds of the slaughtered and maimed were women and children. This atrocity has been known as the Sand Creek Massacre ever since.

For years, the United States had been engaged in conflict with several Indian tribes over territory. The Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851 had given the Indians extensive territory, but the Pikes Peak gold rush in 1858 and other factors had persuaded the U.S. to renegotiate the terms of the treaty. In 1861, the Treaty of Fort Wise was signed by Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho chiefs. The treaty took from the Indians much of the land given to them by the earlier treaty, reducing the size of their reservation land to about 1/13th of the original amount.

Although the peace seeking chiefs signed the treaty to ensure the safety of their people, not all of the tribes were happy with the decision. In particular, a group of Indians known as the Dog Soldiers, made up of Cheyenne and Lakota, were vehemently opposed to having white settlers on what the Indians still referred to as their land.

In 1864, a group of Civil War soldiers under commander Colonel John Chivington, with the blessing of Colorado governor John Evans, began to attack several Cheyenne camps in Colorado. Another attack on Cheyenne camps occurred in Kansas by forces under the command of Lieutenant George S. Eayre. The Cheyenne retaliated for the attack, furthering the aggression of the U.S. forces.

In an attempt to maintain peace, two chiefs, Black Kettle and White Antelope, tried to establish a truce. They were advised to camp near Fort Lyon in Colorado and fly an American flag over their camp to establish themselves as friendly. On November 29th, 1864, while the majority of the males were out hunting, Colonel Chivington and his 700 troops attacked the Indian campsite near Fort Lyon. More than a hundred Indians were killed, despite the American flag flying overhead and the raising of a white flag after the attack began.

Most of the Indians killed were women and children, and many of their bodies were mutilated.

 

 

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