Massacre Mistrust and Misery - December 2014

The Big Sandy Creek today as viewed from the bluffs.
Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site today.

National Park Service

Sand Creek Massacre News Release

December 1, 2014
For Immediate Release
Eric Sainio, 719-729-3003

Massacre, Mistrust, and Misery

This article is part of a series by the National Park Service concerning the 150th Anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre.

The killing of around 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho at the Sand Creek Massacre created intense mistrust and influenced most subsequent conflicts between American Indians and the U.S. Army. The Plains Indian Wars escalated even as the military investigated the incident, congressional committees questioned participants, and the Federal Government admitted its responsibility.

The Treaty of the Little Arkansas in October 1865 acknowledged U. S. blame for the massacre, but it also extinguished Cheyenne and Arapaho rights to land titles in Colorado. This treaty echoed the words of the Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War, "It is difficult to believe that beings in the form of men and disgracing the uniform of United States soldiers and officers, could commit or countenance… such acts of cruelty and barbarity."

By eliminating most of the Cheyenne peace chiefs, the massacre hardened resistance to white expansion and intensified warfare between the U.S. Army and many plains tribes. These wars would continue for another thirteen years after the massacre. The massacre also disrupted the social, political, economic and traditional structure of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, particularly as they moved or were forced onto reservations outside of Colorado.

Repercussions from the Sand Creek Massacre extended throughout the United States, affecting Indian policy, creating public condemnation, and impacting Cheyenne and Arapaho society to the present day. Every year, Cheyenne and Arapaho people return to the site to honor the victims and survivors, offer prayers for healing, and run to Denver to honor their ancestors.

To find out more about the repercussions from the Sand Creek Massacre, go to www.nps.gov/sand or visit the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site outside of Eads, Colorado.

Last updated: January 6, 2017

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