- By Native News Online Staff
DENVER— In a long overdue gesture, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) on Tuesday signed an Executive Order rescinding a pair of 19th century proclamations that granted the right to kill American Indians.
The original proclamation was signed in June 1864 by then Territorial Governor John Evans, who also served as superintendent of Indian Affairs. Evans issued a proclamation that “intended to prevent friendly Indians from being killed through mistake… The war on hostile Indians will be continued until they are all effectually subdued."
On August 11, 1864, Evans issued another proclamation that authorized Colorado Territory citizens to “kill and destroy as many enemies of the country, wherever they may be found, all such hostile Indians.”
Those who killed Indians were given property as a reward.
The two proclamations set the stage for the Sand Creek Massacre on Nov. 29, 1864, resulting in the deaths of at least 133 Cheyenne and Arapaho women, children and elders by 700 members of the Colorado territory militia.
Polis rescinded the proclamations on Tuesday, joined on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol by citizens of the Southern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe, and the Northern Arapaho Tribe, as well as members of Colorado's American Indian and Alaska Native communities, Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera and other Colorado state officials.
Gov. Polis called Evans’ proclamations shameful and found it necessary to remove a gross abuse of power for a dark period of Colorado’s territorial history.
A portion of the Executive Order reads:
“The 1864 Proclamations were never lawful because they violated established treaty rights and federal Indian law. Further, when Colorado became a state, they never became law, as they were superseded by the Colorado Constitution, United States Constitution, and Colorado criminal code. Yet, the 1864 Proclamations have never been officially rescinded. They therefore remain as a symbol of a gross abuse of executive power during that grave period in our State’s history.
For these reasons, I find it necessary to officially finally rescind the shameful 1864 Proclamations through this Executive Order and provide closure for this dark period of our territorial history.”
Colorado became the 38th state of the United States on August 1, 1876.
Updated: Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021 - 11:15 a.m. - EDT
More Stories Like This'Remove the Stain Act' Moves Forward as House Passes Defense Bill
Lummi Nation Woman Reported Missing While Vacationing in Las Vegas, Found Alive
Lummi Woman Disappears in Las Vegas, on Trip with Fiancé and Friends
Biden Administration to Host 2021 White House Tribal Nations Summit
Albuquerque man sentenced to 5 years for assault in Indian Country
Native Perspective. Native Voices. Native News.
We launched Native News Online because the mainstream media often overlooks news that is important is Native people. We believe that everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers. We hope you'll consider making a donation to support our efforts so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.