Last weekend we decided to take a family trip (trying to escape Kansas triple digit weather) to Colorado. The wife being interested in Western history had wanted to visit the site of the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado. This infamous act of barbarism was committed towards the end of the American Civil War (November 9th 1864), and ignited a war amongst the Plain's Indians that culminated in the battle of the Little Big Horn, where Col. George C Custer and elements of the 7th Calvary were wiped out. It began when Colorado's hard line territorial governor, John Evans (of Welsh descent) ordered Col John Chivington to deal with the Cheyenne and Arapaho who had been stealing cattle. He commanded 800 troops (Calvary and artillery)
Meanwhile a group of Cheyenne Indians led by Black Kettle and White Antelope where camped near the Sand Creek with 70 lodges and about 800 men, women and children. They were told to camp there by the authorities, and were to be regarded as "friendly Indians". That did not stop vegetate Indian hater and Methodist preacher, Chivington from killing them, in fact he said.
Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians! ... I have come to kill Indians, and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God's heaven to kill Indians.
Genocide was in his mind, and he and his soldiers attacked. Only 2 officiars refused to (Captain Soule and Lt Cramer).
This was from a testmony by John Smith
I saw the bodies of those lying there cut all to pieces, worse mutilated than any I ever saw before; the women cut all to pieces ... With knives; scalped; their brains knocked out; children two or three months old; all ages lying there, from sucking infants up to warriors ... By whom were they mutilated? By the United States troops ...
—- John S. Smith, Congressional Testimony of Mr. John S. Smith, 1865
Fingers and ears were cut off the bodies for the jewelry they carried. The body of White Antelope, lying solitarily in the creek bed, was a prime target. Besides scalping him the soldiers cut off his nose, ears, and testicles-the last for a tobacco pouch ...
Chief Black Kettle
Another eyewitness reported.
"Jis to think of that dog Chivington and his dirty hounds, up thar at Sand Creek. His men shot down squaws, and blew the brains out of little innocent children. You call sich soldiers Christians, do ye? And Indians savages? What der yer 'spose our Heavenly Father, who made both them and us, thinks of these things? I tell you what, I don't like a hostile red skin any more than you do. And when they are hostile, I've fought 'em, hard as any man. But I never yet drew a bead on a squaw or papoose, and I despise the man who would."
The famous scout and pathfinder, Kit Carson.
Unfortunately Carson's enlightened attitude was rare and the old saying "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" was commonly held by those who even abhorred Slavery. The native American was either to be absorbed and become white (which was Thomas Jefferson's view) or be wiped out. It was estimated that 133 men women and children were killed.
Chivington was condemned by a court of enquiry, but disgraced with nothing but the memory on his self righteous and sociopathic mind.
It took us about 3 hours of driving through dusty western towns, named for such enlightened folk as Horace Greeley and his anti slavery newspaper “Tribune”. After driving for 30 minutes along a dusty county road, we arrived at the site of America’s shame on open plain, where there is one marker.
We stood by the site in silence with nothing by the wind blowing and moaning. It was like the cry of a baby. Just like the ghost of those innocents who were butchered there.
Also those who believe in “American Exceptionalism” and a “City built on a hill” should come here and ask, what is “exceptionable” about this. We are as guilty now as we were then.
And with the Immigration law in Arizona which encourages racial profiling, we are a long way from fulfilling the American dream. They should come here and ask why?