Sand Creek massacre victims given permanent resting place

The Sand Creek Massacre took place on November 29, 1864. That morning 650 Colorado volunteers attacked a village of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians. Dawn was broken by the clanging of muskets, artillery, and the booming voice of John Chivington – the Fighting Parson’s final harangue to his troops.Meeting of US representatives and chief Black Kettle prior the Sand creek massacre

A was crime committed by US troops against Indian civilians almost 150 years ago is now commemorated by the US government. Plans are being made up to set up a cemetery for the victims, a Native American religious facility and a special historical interpretation centre.

The centre is likely to display much of the surviving evidence of the event – The Sand Creek massacre – in which at least 160 Indians, mostly unarmed women, children and elderly men, were butchered by two US cavalry units led by Colonel John Chivington in November 1864.

Colonel John Chivington

The location, in Colorado, was declared a national historic site only in 2007. It is the first such site ever established in the US specifically to commemorate a massacre of civilians.

After completion of the Site Location Study, the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site was officially authorized on November 7, 2000. On August 2, 2005 the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site moved a step closer to its establishment with the passage of P.L. 109-45, the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site Trust Act.

The drawing depict the Sand Creek massacre

In 2007, Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site was established as a National Park Service unit.

The decision of the US Congress to commemorate the killings is controversial in some non-academic circles in the American West. Although historians have long regarded the episode as a massacre, some local people view it as a normal battle.

Ellen and Arthur Brady, Sand Creek massacre survivors

The US Congress has ruled that the site should help humanity prevent such events occurring in the future. It has also agreed that a cemetery should be established within the site’s boundaries as a resting place for those victims whose remains can be located.

There are at least 14 other major US atrocity sites which have not been officially acknowledged through national historic site status. And, although the US conquest of the Indian West in the 19th century caused thousands of Indian civilian deaths, only three locations officially commemorate their fate: Sand creek, Washita in Oklahoma and the Trail of Tears National historic Trail in south-east USA.

This compares to 20 sites which officially commemorate the American War of Independence and more than 60 sites officially dedicated to the battles of the US Civil War.

The Sand Creek Massacre NHS is currently open Monday – Friday (9:00 AM – 4:00 PM). Beginning April 1, 2012, the park will be open daily.

The Sand Creek Massacre NHS is located at 55411 County Road W. The site can be reached via Colorado 96 north at Chief White Antelope Way (Kiowa County Road 54) or via Colorado 96 north at Kiowa County Road 59.

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