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Sand Creek Massacre

SAND CREEK MASSACRE

SAND CREEK MASSACRE, an attack on a village of sleeping Cheyenne Indians by a regiment of Colorado militiamen on 29 November 1864 that resulted in the death of more than 200 tribal members. About two-thirds of the dead were women and children. Many bodies were brutally mutilated and their scalps were strung across a Denver theater stage to the delight of an applauding audience.

By 1864, the previously united Cheyenne had divided into two bands that followed the northern and southern buffalo herds. In that year, with regular army troops redeployed for Civil War service and the borders between Indian and non-Indian settlements often in dispute, American settlers on the plains feared tribes like the Cheyenne who had access to weapons. In Colorado, Governor John Evans authorized the commander of the state's militia, a former Methodist minister named John M. Chivington, to patrol the eastern borders of the territory to guard against Indian attacks. Chivington's aggressive tactics worried the friendly Southern Cheyenne sufficiently that they sought out Major Edward Wynkoop at Fort Lyon on the Arkansas River. The Southern Cheyenne's leader, Black Kettle, turned four white captives over to Wynkoop and promised to live peacefully on a reservation. News of this breakthrough did not please Evans and Chivington, however, for they had just organized a new regiment of Colorado militiamen who had volunteered for 100 days of service and had been promised an Indian war.

Wynkoop brought Black Kettle to Denver to meet Chivington. On 28 September, Chivington met with the Cheyenne and invited them to establish a camp near Fort Lyon. By November nearly 230 lodges of peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho had surrendered. Because of the need to hunt game, Black Kettle's group set up more than 100 of their lodges along Sand Creek. It was this camp that Chivington and his forces attacked on 29 November. When Chivington attacked, Black Kettle assumed it was a mistake. The chief raised an American flag and a white flag over his tipi in a sign of friendship. The Colorado volunteers rode on. Remarkably, Black Kettle was not killed at Sand Creek; he would die four years later in another unprovoked attack by American soldiers on the Washita River in Indian Territory.

While celebrated in Denver, a great many Americans met the Sand Creek Massacre with horror. Congress launched an investigation of the tragedy and within two years had established a Peace Commission to draw up equitable treaties with groups like the Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Sioux. Sand Creek remains a biting memory for both


the Cheyenne and non-Indians, but efforts to acquire the site of the massacre for a national park have only recently borne fruit.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Moore, John H. The Cheyenne. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1996.

Utley, Robert. The Indian Frontier of the American West, 1846–1890. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984.

Frederick E.Hoxie

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The Sand Creek Massacre

The Sand Creek Massacre (1864) was a tragedy inflicted on the Cheyenne village of Chief Black Kettle by local Colorado troops.Antagonized by Colorado officials, Cheyenne and other Plains tribes had raided settlements and travel routes throughout the summer of 1864. With the approach of winter, the peace chiefs, of whom Black Kettle was the foremost, sought terms. The commander of the military district was Col. John M. Chivington, a former Methodist clergyman with political ambitions who had entered the volunteer service at the outbreak of the Civil War. He directed the chiefs to camp on Sand Creek until further arrangements could be made. Here Black Kettle believed himself at peace and under military protection.

Chivington, however, had raised a regiment of 100‐day militia to fight Indians, and citizens expected it to do so. With great secrecy, he concentrated a force of 700 men, consisting of the territorial militia and units of federalized volunteers, and at daybreak on 29 November, he launched a surprise attack on Black Kettle's village. On Chivington's orders, the troops took no prisoners and indiscriminately shot down men, women, and children. Of some 500 people in the village, 200 were killed and their bodies scalped and mutilated. About two‐thirds of the dead were women and children. A few, including Black Kettle, survived.

Sand Creek set off Indian warfare that engulfed the Great Plains through 1865 and 1866. It also prompted official investigations that exposed the perfidy of Chivington's actions and led to new Indian policies emphasizing diplomacy rather than war. Chivington, however, escaped court‐martial by leaving the service.
[See also Militia and National Guard; Plains Indians Wars.]

Bibliography

Stan Hoig , The Sand Creek Massacre, 1963.

Robert M. Utley

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"The Sand Creek Massacre." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"The Sand Creek Massacre." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Retrieved June 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sand-creek-massacre

Sand Creek

Sand Creek, Colorado, site of a massacre (1864) of Cheyenne by Col. John M. Chivington and his Colorado Volunteers. The Cheyennes, led by their chief, Black Kettle, had offered to make peace and, at the suggestion of military personnel, had encamped at Sand Creek near Fort Lyon while awaiting word from the territory's governor. There they were attacked in a surprise dawn raid on Nov. 29, 1864. Chivington and his men, choosing to ignore a white flag, slaughtered and mutilated hundreds of men, women, and children. The atrocity has been the subject of much controversy, and an effort to unearth the site began in 1998.

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"Sand Creek." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Sand Creek." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved June 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sand-creek