Sand Creek Massacre: The injustice that affected women and children

Sand Creek Massacre: The injustice that affected women and children

Hello all!

I have been relatively absent this week on my site, as an infection of some sort left me with no energy and a very tenacious cough. If you follow my Facebook page you will have seen some posts about intergenerational trauma, residential schools and healing and reconciliation. More to come in another post. But for today, I want to continue talking about the history of trauma and genocides the Native people have gone through. Oftentimes, in the name of land, of who would have the most of it. So let’s explore an event that is called the Sand Creek Massacre.

sand creek massacre

Before 1864

The Era

Let’s place a bit of context around the massacre. Turtle Island was already in a full on undeclared war for the land. The US Army and the US government were on a mission to get the land from the Indigenous people. Thousands of Cherokees had already been displaced and forced off their land during what is now referred to as the Trail of Tears in 1830. Then President Andrew Jackson approved the Indian Removal Act, which basically allowed him to remove any tribes living east of the Mississippi River. They say about 45 000 First Nation people were removed from their home, forced to take a journey on a treacherous terrain. Many left their life behind and later lost it out of hunger, fatigue, exhaustion or sickness. Jackson’s Indian Removal Act marked the beginning of the Removal Era.

Indeed, disputes over land were rampant. This was before the Indian Act of 1876, which officially confined Native people on reserves, an experience they never had before. As to them, there was no need for reserves. There was just land, their land. Why put boundaries on a land that was theirs, right? 

Lindneaux painting of the massacre

Lindneaux painting of the Sand Creek Massacre

Well a series of treaties followed, which promised numerous things to Native people, only to screw them over later on. Sorry, but there is no other way to say it. In 1861, another treaty was written with the Cheyenne and Arapaho nations. The treaty of Fort Wise. As expected, the treaty’s result was land taken away from the Cheyenne and Arapaho, land that was given to them with previous treaties. What were they left with you ask? About 1/13th of their previous land. Why did they sign it then? Well, remember the context here. Chiefs were trying to maintain peace and to keep their people safe. But of course, not everyone was happy about the results of the Fort Wise treaty. In particular, a group named Dog Solders was greatly opposed to having the White man living on indigenous land. Tension was high.

What happened in 1864

Keeping the land was important to Indian chiefs but so was trying to keep the peace. Enough blood had been shed (if only they knew it was only the beginning). So in September of 1864, Arapaho and Cheyenne chiefs met with the US military to seek peace east of Denver. You can see a group picture below.

delegation of Cheyenne and Arapaho

delegation of Arapaho and Cheyenne chiefs

However, things did not go as planned. Otherwise there would not have been a massacre…Therefore, in November of 1864, commander Colonel John Chivington, with the okay of governor John Evans began his attack on the Cheyenne tribes in Colorado. Simultaneously, more Cheyenne camps were being attacked in Kansas under the supervision of Lieutenant George S. Eayre.

Nevertheless, the Native people being peaceful people, still had peace on their mind. Chiefs Black Kettle and White Antelope tried to establish a truce. Both chiefs received advice to establish camp at a certain spot and to fly the American flag as a sign of peace. The flag was supposed to represent friendliness. On November 29, 1864, when most men were out hunting, the cavalry of Colonel Chivington and his 700 troops descended upon the camp.

National Park service brochure

National historic site brochure from the National Park Service

The result? About 150-200 Indians died that day. Even though a white flag was put up, and the men were out hunting, the massacre occurred. Most victims were women and kids. Moreover, many of them were mutilated and paraded down the streets of Denver by dear Colonel Chivington. Even though eyewitnesses obviously were present, no charges were ever laid.

Sand Creek Massacre

So there you have it. It feels like history repeating itself… The Native people, the Indigenous people of the land, wishing for peace and getting massacred instead. I am sorry if it sounds abrupt but it is what happened. And unfortunately, it was not over after the Sand Creek Massacre. More genocides were to come, including the very sad battle of Wounded Knee. We are talking years and years of stealing of the land, of deaths, unnecessary deaths, innocents losing their lives. We have come a long way since (with more misery in between) but there is some healing taking place. There is resilience in the people. So much of it. The Red Man will rise again. He is rising.

All my Relations


18 thoughts on “Sand Creek Massacre: The injustice that affected women and children

  1. Aikaterini Markakis

    Hello Emily! Wonderful post! It’s always a pleasure to visit your website since there is something new to learn every time. I didn’t know much about the Sand Creek massacre but historical events like that truly break my heart. It amazes me how a civilization such as this of Native Americans which are known to be peaceful were so maltreated.
    Thank you for sharing Emily!

    1. Emily Post author

      thanks Katerina!
      it is heart breaking to read about what happened. And for what? Who had the most land? Certainly does not justify the atrocities

  2. edy

    This is a very interesting prehistoric story about Sand Creek Massacre. The ancient time seemed to be cruel and merciless. But, it is still a very good reminisce for all of us!
    You have a strong passion talking about this which I rarely see today.
    Well done. Keep up the good job.

    1. Emily Post author

      thanks Edy
      for a few hundred of years, yes there was a lot of violence and injustice against the Native people. We are seeing some healing taking place now but the wounds are still very much there

  3. Sonia

    Hi Emily,
    Great historical review about the event surrounding the Sand Creek massacre. I definitely learned something new today. Thanks.

  4. Chris

    This is a subject I knew nothing about before visiting this site. Quite a shocking read. Reminds me a bit of the nanjing masacre in CHina. I read something like 92% of the time man has been on the planet, there have been wars and killing. Its like its in our DNA or something, which is sad. Thanks for creating awareness

  5. Wayne

    Hi Emily,

    There have been so many raises of people through time that have been brutalized by prejudice and it still goes on today. From the Jews to the Indians to the Blacks to the….. and the list goes on. It’s really sad that the human raise has yet to come out of the cave man era.

    We think just because we have come so far with great advancements in technology that we have evolved into a more advanced raise, but the truth is the same atrocities the went on 200 years ago still go on today in modern times.

    I long for a world with peace and just don’t understand why?

    1. Emily Post author

      hi Wayne
      I agree. We want to think that those atrocities are not taking place today but they are. Just in a different form. The position of the Black people in the USA is not better and they are also grossly over-represented in prison. The injustices did take place and I can only hope that true changes will take place for healing to happen

  6. geoff-n-jane

    Hi Emily,
    I really don’t understand why the governments and/or armies of peace-loving nations need to take the land away from the Indigenous People.
    The fact that the land belonged to these people for perhaps hundreds of generations before the “Whites” came along, seems never to make any difference.
    I hate it when the Whites in power think that they can take anything they like from anyone they like. The trouble is that the Indigenous People always bare the brunt of this.
    Unfortunately the Australian Aborigines are in exactly the same boat. Their lands are always being invaded and sacrificed to the Whites as well.
    Thank you for a sad, but also interesting post.

    1. Emily Post author

      So very true unfortunately. Most Indigenous people are in the same situation, where the land was and still is taken from them. Land should not be for sale but the government does not seem to care about that. They see dollar signs.

  7. Brad

    Hi Emily,

    Really interesting article. Coming from Australia I don’t know much American history, but it seems there are many parallels.

    In my local area we have a road named Murdering Creek Road. It is named after the massacre of a tribe of local indigenous peoples during the 1860’s.
    There is not a lot of information about this dark stain on Australian history, maybe because it was a common occurrence at the time. Unfortunately the people, their traditions, and their stories are lost forever. It really is a crying shame.

    Keep it alive,


    1. Emily Post author

      hi Brad
      Indigenous people from Australia certainly have a similar history as the ones from Turtle Island (America). The name of the site you are talking about says it all….Massacres occurred within all Indigenous people in the 1800’s. Most times, to gain or steal the land. The fact that it is not readily discussed or taught it sad and disappointing indeed

  8. Saima

    Hi Emily,

    I really enjoyed reading your article about the Sand Creek Massacre. This is something new for me as I am not very familiar with American history as I am from England.

    Even though I enjoyed your article, I was very sad to read it and see how things turned out for the Native people. All they wanted was peace, and what did they get? Well, I don’t need to say it because your article says it all. It’s sad and it breaks my heart to think what they must have gone through and what they lost. May thy all rest in peace.

    Before I go, I have a question for you. What does All My Relations mean? I have never heard of it before and I noticed that you end all your articles with it.


    1. Emily Post author

      hi Saima
      thank you so much for stopping by. There has been and still is a lot of hurt that is true. The Native people are fundamentally very peaceful people who were forced to fight for what was theirs. It is sad indeed. All my Relations means we are all related. We are all from Mother Earth, we share the same space and what I do affects others and vice versa. It is a more global concept as it includes all our relations such as animals and everything in nature


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