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150 Years Later, Two Universities Answer for Their Founder's Role in the Sand Creek Massacre


150 Years Later, Two Universities Answer for Their Founder's Role in the Sand Creek Massacre

Ned Blackhawk

November 29, 2014, was the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre, one of the most violent days in American Indian history. On that fateful morning, a force of American cavalry officers, led by Colonel John Chivington, and settler militia forces mounted an attack in southeastern Colorado. Through the day, into the night, and again the next morning, nearly 700 soldiers raped, mutilated, and killed peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians allied under the leadership of Black Kettle.


The tactics used in the West to cleanse the lands of their First nations people were the same that had been used when those first Pilgrims got off their boats.

They would move into lands occupied by various tribes and begin clearing lands. They deemed those lands as “Private property” and if any of the original inhabitants resisted would kill the same. If the Tribes responded in kind the settlers would than call upon the army to “defend them”. Indeed one of the complaints made in the Declaration of Independence was that the crown was no longer going to defend british citizens from the “frontier savages” in the lands those settlers wished to expand to.

After Independence the Ohio Territories were also settled in such a manner with Settlers moving in, seizing lands and calling it private property and then calling on the US Militray to defend them when the peoples living there tried to fight back.

In both Canada and the USA the presence of the First nations people was and is an embarassment to those in power. They are ever a reminder that Nations that called themselves as “Freedom loving” and concerned with “Peace and Liberty” were in fact invaders who wrested the land away from its original peoples through duplicity and murder. Those in power are still hard at work trying to rewrite History and erase these peoples from the narrative they wish to tell. Universities have always played a role in trying to rewrite history so as to make it appear the cause of those in power was ever a noble one.

Israel adopted many of the tactics that were perfected in the Americas.


Excellent article. Gut wrenching chapter in American history, sad, so sad.


The University of South Dakota continues to do good work on the Native Americans of the northern plains.



If Mr. Lincoln’s ( Puritanism ) an Rev. ( Christian Murderer ) Mr. Evan’s plan was Native American genocide, and 375 out of 376 broken treaties provides the empirical evidence here, it is little wonder that so many statues, buildings, cities and towns in America honor their work. Having lived in Evanston and Denver and visited the Sand Creek area and Little Big Horn, the first thing you note is all the Native Americans were asking for was some space, room to breathe, room to move. That was their greatest sin in the Christian world which enveloped them and tried to assimilate ( exterminate ) them. By extension, the Christian business model of appropriation and conversion of belief " convert or die ", is still the prevailing model used by the United States and fellow business partners, in its dealings with the larger world. The Crusades are still very much alive, even though in polite society, that term is a real no-no. We’re still " on a mission " as a country and appropriation is still the goal; the real endgame. While it is progress to acknowledge our shameful past what do we do with our future? Will we have one 150 years from now? Or, like the Native Americans at Sand Creek found out, wondering about your future is beyond the scope of the present mission. Gandhi thought Jesus was a pretty thoughtful fellow but he wasn’t to impressed with most Christians. Who knows, just maybe, he was referring to their religious/business model?


Thanks for the info. Not surprised all that good works from a state where the great George McGovern came from.


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If anyone wants to see a psychopath described, read the wiki article on John Chivington. Note his power-seeking, lies, and repeated exploitation of others without hesitation or remorse. Classic case.

(I wonder how much part the exposure of the crime in Iron Man 3 played in this new-found desire to stop ignoring it)


The movie Soldier Blue made in 1971 really makes the point of this horrendous crime, too. Warning, not for the fainthearted.


American Exceptionalism is the schizophrenic internalization of entire chains of ‘excepts’
except for institutionalized negation of nature and dehumanization
except for slavery
except for genocide
except for lack of accurate scope of history taught to our children
except for claiming that it is acceptable to base an economy on usurpation and war
except for corruption…
except for ____________ fill in the blank

the excepts beget new excepts and downshift into more distorted and intensified exceptionalism and deepening of the denial syndromes that characterize the predatory corporate capital model

recognizing them is essential to developing appropriate and absolutely necessary reparations


I grew up in Colorado about 100 miles from Sand Creek, and have visited there. I was told about the massacre by my granddad. It is a very sad place to visit and a testament to how awful people can act when they think that the other side is not really human at all. For my family, and even for me it was almost a catastrophe. After the inexcusable attack and massacre of Black Kettles camp the Commanche and Kiowa (maybe Arapahoe too ) launched reprisal attacks against settlers on the Colorado-Kansas border. My Great Grandfather’s family was one of them. He was 4 years old at the time but apparently remembered it. His father was away somewhere when the attack came. The families next to their place were killed, but all that happened to them is that the warriors found him, his sister, and his mom hiding in the root cellar and just stared down at them then shut the door. They took some jelly preserves and left. I don’t blame them for their reaction to the massacre at sand creek. I only tell this story as this article hits home for me in a personal way.


We need a truth and reconciliation movement for the horrible crimes against the original people who lived on this land for thousands of years before the Europeans ever thought of coming to North/South America. We also need another truth and reconciliation for the crimes of slavery, segregation, lynchings and disenfranchisement of African Americans. Wow, those polite and well mannered Brits; they march into a given area (North America, Australia, New Zealand, etc.) declare that it’s their land now and proceed to decimate and marginalize the indigenous populations. Of course, the Spanish, French, Dutch and Belgiums were no better. Actually at bottom, it’s not a fault of one race or group, it’s the fault of humanity. Hannibal was not European. The attributes of greed, covetousness and acquisitiveness are human failings found in all races and creeds. This is not to excuse the horrible crimes of white American against the native Americans and against African Americans. These crimes must be faced and dealt with.


I don’t think I’ll be watching that – just the small mention in IM3 made me want to sick up.