Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre. A National Park Service press release describes the event in these words (italics added):
The Sand Creek Massacre, tragic and unnecessary, impacted Federal-Indian relations and created the circumstances for years of warfare. With the events of November 29, 1864 fixed in their minds, Plains Indian nations faced an uncertain future between warring against and accommodating the federal government.
Cheyenne and Arapaho peace chiefs [Black Kettle among them], influenced by assurances of peace at the Camp Weld Conference, reported to Fort Lyon throughout October of 1864. The fort’s commander told Black Kettle and other leaders to await a peace delegation at their camp on Sand Creek and to fly the U.S. flag to indicate their peaceful intent. Throughout November, these elders waited.
On November 29, U.S. Army (Volunteer) soldiers
[under the command of Colonel John Chivington, a Methodist minister], attacked the village. Disregarding the greetings and calls to stop, these “beings in the form of men” fired indiscriminately at the Cheyenne and Arapaho. Of approximately seven hundred people in the village, about two hundred died that day. Two-thirds of the dead and mutilated bodies left on the ground were women and children.
Boasting of his victory and downplaying Army casualties, Colonel John Chivington paraded the body parts of dead Cheyenne and Arapaho through the streets of Denver, reveling in the acclaim he long sought. However, not all of Chivington’s officers and men agreed with his actions, and soon the
consequences of these actions would sweep up and down the Plains, back to Washington, D.C., and into the lives of thousands of people. [Captain Silas Soule refused to order his company to fire during the massacre; he and Major Ned Wynkoop played key roles in the investigation of the massacre.]
Learn more about the Sand Creek Massacre:
- Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site – National Park Service
- The Sand Creek Massacre – November 2014 – National Park Service
- Sand Creek Massacre 150th Schedule – National Park Service
- Sand Creek Massacre Devastates Tribes, Intensifies Warfare – Indian Country Today Media Network
- The Horrific Sand Creek Massacre Will Be Forgotten No More – Smithsonian Magazine
- Sand Creek – Zinn Education Project
- Sand Creek 150th Anniversary: 5 Resources to Learn More – Indian Country Today Media Network
- What Led to the Sand Creek Massacre? Check Out This Timeline – Indian Country Today Media Network
- Remember the Sand Creek Massacre – New York Times
- Ways to Remember Sand Creek on the 150th Anniversary – Indian Country Today Media Network
Remember those killed and wound and violated.
Remember the horror, the atrocity.
But remember also Black Kettle, who sought a just, honorable peace for his people; and remember Silas Soule, and Ned Wynkoop and the others who, in their way and fashion sought peace and justice for those touched by this day of horror.
May the day soon come when, by God’s grace, we transform weapns into implements of production and healing.
See you along the Trail.