150th anniversary of proclamation that set off senseless slaughter.
Let’s remember that the United States Park Service not only protects wild and beautiful places but also historic sites, documenting the good, the bad and the ugly in American history. It has been 150 years, since war between Volunteer U.S. Army units and the Cheyenne and Arapaho boiled up and swept the High Plains. To seek public support for his war efforts, Territorial Governor John Evans issued a June Proclamation asking “peaceful Indians” to report to U.S. Army forts, most Cheyenne and Arapaho had just received that message before he offered a new declaration to the settlers in Colorado. It was ill-intentioned in the first place, but then went wrong besides.
As the Park Service explains, “The August 11 proclamation stated that Evans authorized the citizens of Colorado ‘to kill and destroy, as enemies of the country… all hostile Indians.’ This edict argued that peaceful Plains Indians had received sufficient time to report to the forts; therefore independent citizens were justified in attacking hostile Indians and seizing goods from them.
“As a consequence of these actions, war on the Plains continued even as peace chiefs sought a way to negotiate with Colorado’s leadership. Soon, elements of the First and Third Regiments attacked Sand Creek’s peaceful village, killing women and children, poisoning relations, and destroying the peace process for years.”
The proclamation set off the Massacre that occurred in November and has been a stain on Colorado’s history for a century and a half. The Sand Creek Massacre Historic Site commemorates the tragedy. Click here to read more about the fatal proclamation and the Third Colorado Cavalry, or better, visit the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site outside of Eads, Colorado. I cannot help but find tragic parallels between the Sand Creek tragedy and the events going on now in Gaza.