America's Embarrassment - The Sand Creek Massacre

The Sand Creek Massacre was a sad and unfortunate event in the history of the United States that occurred on November 29, 1864. There was much contention between the white settlers and the native Indians as the settlers began to branch out and settle throughout the unformed territories of what much later became known as the United States of America. During this contention there were many treaties forced upon different tribes of Indians, one of those tribes were the Cheyenne who were led by chief Black Kettle. One treaty after another led the Black Kettle and his people from one sad piece of land to another until they found themselves on the Sand Creek Reservation more by force than choice.

This was not enough for many settlers, especially one in particular name John Chivington. Chivington led his troops to the Sand Creek Reservation on the morning of November 29, 1864 with the intent of slaughtering as many Cheyenne as possible. That morning Chivington ordered his troops to attack, and they did.

They massacred anything in their way including men, women, and children. There was no mercy shown on chief Black Kettle's people that tragic morning, it has been estimated that between 200 and 400 men, women, and children were slaughtered that day. As if killing wasn't enough for Chivington's troops, they proceeded to sexually mutilate the bodies of the dead and took them back as trophies of their horrific accomplishment. Not only was the Sand Creek Massacre a huge loss of life for the Cheyenne, it also shattered the spirits of those who survived.

Black Kettle's Ballad

Black Kettle - Cheyenne Chief Murdered With His People

Black Kettle was a Southern Cheyenne chief who lived in territory that stretched from western Kansas to eastern Colorado due to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. He was one of the chiefs who tried to bring peace between his people and the white settlers. Years later as the desperation for gold spread through the settlers the government demanded that they Southern Cheyenne sign over more of their land with a new treaty in 1861, Chief Black Kettle signed in an attempt to save his people. The Southern Cheyenne including Chief Black Kettle were moved to an unlivable piece of land knows as the Sand Creek reservation, located in Colorado. Although chief Black Kettle hoped that the move to Sand Creek would save his people the sad parcel of land began to kill them with diseases and lack of food.

As time marched on and many in the Sand Creed Reservation died the young Cheyenne men began to attack passing settlers in an attempt to obtain food and provisions that the military lacked in providing. Unfortunately this began a series of events that end in heartache for the Southern Cheyenne. Black Kettle attempted to work things out between his people and the militia despite the injustices that had been forced on his people.

Although the militia gave their word countless times, they never followed through, especially Colonel John Chivington. John Chivington and his troops attacked chief Black Kettle and his people at Sand Creek, massacring anyone who stood in their way on November 29, 1864. Black Kettle was able to escape and even save his wife. Black Kettle was a man who believed in the hope of coexistence, he signed treaty after treaty, he moved his people from their ancestral land, and was forced to watch them die again and again. He was a man who had a vision and faith but in the end was disappointed and killed by the white settlers who coveted the land of his people.

John Chivington - Colorado Minister and Murderer

The question of who John Chivington is one that is riddled in layers due to the controversy that surrounded the man. John Chivington was born in Ohio in 1821. He grew up while working on his family's farm, married at the age of twenty three and began his career as a minister shortly after. He moved his family around quite and became quite famous for his controversial beliefs against slavery while in Missouri. Because of his strong beliefs and willingness to uphold his beliefs with force if necessary, the church then sent him to Nebraska, from there Chivington and his family found their way to Denver where he soon joined the Colorado Volunteer Regiment and became a military hero.

John Chivington had a clear dislike for the Indians and chose to take advantage of the rising trouble between the settlers and the Indians as a means for his own agenda. Chivington believed that extermination of the Indians was the only way to be rid of them and used his political influence to voice his opinion and sway many to his way of thinking. Shortly after treaties had been signed and agreements made, Chivington and his troops took it upon themselves to wipe out as many Indians as they could, especially when they heard that chief Black Kettle was encamped at the Sand Creek reservation.

On the morning of November 29, 1864 Chivington and his troops slaughtered the Cheyenne inhabitants, even women and children. If that wasn't enough he and troops then mutilated the bodies and used them as trophies. It wasn't until sometime later that the details of the Sand Creek Massacre spread to government officials and the men who were responsible were questioned. Chivington was not formally charged due to loop holes in the system, but carried the weight of the accusations with him for the rest of his life until his death from cancer.

Comments 1 comment

Donald L. Vasicek 6 years ago

Remember, most all books and films written and produced have been done by

Caucasian people. The award-winning "The Sand Creek Massacre" film was told by the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho people. The filmmaker acted simply as a channel for them. They tell their truth, and it is somewhat unlike what most white folks tell.

Donald L. Vasicek

Olympus Films+, LLC

The Zen of Writing and Filmmaking

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