If you are traveling the state this summer, here’s a place to put on your agenda: First, a little history: On November 29, 1864, a volunteer group of 700 state militia troops brutally killed 150 Native Americans, most of them women and children, in their sleep. It became known as the Sand Creek Massacre. Today, in Kiowa Country, a memorial was dedicated to the killed Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians. The Rocky Mountain News, in an 1864 editorial, praised the Colorado militia:
A thousand incidents of individual daring and the passing events of the day might be told, but space forbids. We leave the task for eye-witnesses to chronicle. All acquitted themselves well, and Colorado soldiers have again covered themselves with glory.
Here’s how PBS describes the massacre:
At Sand Creek on November 29, 1864, John Chivington led the Colorado Volunteers in a dawn attack on Black Kettle and his band, who had been told they would be safe on this desolate reservation. Two hundred Cheyenne men, women and children were slaughtered, and their corpses often grotesquely mutilated, in a massacre that shocked the nation.
Several Colorado leaders were on site at the memorial’s dedication, including
[Ben Nighthorse] Campbell and Gov. Bill Ritter….a long with National Park Service Director Mary Bomar; U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R- Colo.; Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and officials from both the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.
The Rocky Mountain News reports that Senators Wayne Allard and Ken Salazar were also scheduled to be in attendance. The memorial was created by the U.S. Parks Service on land purchased by casino owner James Druck.
Druck owns two casinos on the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho reservations in Oklahoma and bought the land as a gift to the tribes. The land, held by the tribes as a trust, is managed by the National Park Service along with about 1,000 more acres that have been purchased.
Here’s how to get there:
Take Interstate 70 east to Limon. East of Limon, take U.S. 287 southeast to Kit Carson, turn south to follow U.S. 287 to Eads, and turn left (east) on Colorado 96. Go past Chivington to County Road 54 and make a left, heading north to the intersection of County Road W. Turn right. Follow the signs to the dedication ceremony.