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At dawn on 29 November 1864, the Union Civil War officer Colonel John M. Chivington (27 January 1821 – 4 October 1894) led 675 cavalry troops from the Colorado Military District against 1,000 peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, mostly women, children and elderly men, camped along the Sand Creek on the edge of reservation lands in what is now Southeastern Colorado. Woke by Union canon fire and the sounds of a cavalry charge from a nearby ridge, the frightened Indians exited their tepees and waived white flags in surrender but were ran down by the charging soldiers. Over 200 natives were killed. Before departing, the soldiers mutilated the dead seeking trophies before burning the village. But not all of the U.S. soldiers participated. Captain Silas S. Soule (26 July 1838 – 23 April 1865) and Lieutenant Joseph A. Cramer (May 1838 – 26 December 1870) of the 1st Colorado Cavalry ordered their soldiers to stand down and instead recorded the horrific events that were later used at a military tribunal. A year later the U.S. government took responsibility for the massacre in the Little Arkansas Treaty signed on 14 October 1865, but the promised reparations were never granted. The U.S. Park Service established the location of the massacre as a National Historic Site effective 27 April 2007 with a dedication ceremony held the following day. Shown in the photograph is a commemorative marker erected in 1985 located on the ridge above the massacre site, a 640-acre area sacred to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Peoples off-limits to the general public.
On this day, 29 November 2020, we commemorate the 156th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre and remember all those Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians who were massacred, and mark more that 13 years since the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site was established in their honor.
Brian Todd Carey