The Reflection of the Sand Creek Massacre in the Public Conscience

Authors: Elena Golosova*, University of Northern Iowa
Topics: Indigenous Peoples
Keywords: massacre, Sand Creek, race, gender, indigenous
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 2:35 PM / 4:15 PM
Room: Roosevelt 3, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Since Europeans reached the land, that later was called “New World,” the process of settlement and establishment of control over the continents by European Empires started. The frontier became a shared space of vast, clashing differences between the indigenous people who inhabited that area and the white foreigners. Pursuing their economic, political and religious goals, the Europeans oppressed the indigenous people who have experienced massacres, tortures, terror, sexual abuse, deprivation, military occupations, and removals from their territories. One of the most slaughterous attacks was the Sand Creek Massacre or as it is also called the Battle of Sand Creek or the Chivington Massacre. More than seven hundred U.S. volunteer soldiers commanded by Colonel John M. Chivington attacked a village of Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians along Sand Creek in southeastern Colorado Territory. Over the course of seven hours, the troops succeeded in killing at least 150 Cheyennes and Arapahos, mostly noncombatant women, children, and the elderly (Greene, Douglas, 2004). Ari Kelman considers the Sand Creek Massacre a bloody and mostly forgotten link between the Civil War and the Plains Indian Wars (2013). It is also one of the most controversial Indian conflicts. As Stan Hoig admits, the dedication of the site by a compromising historical marker, which reads: “Sand Creek ‘Battle’ or ‘Massacre’” indicates the ambiguity of the interpretation of what happened in November 1864 (1993). In this project, I am exploring the relationship between public reaction to the massacre and historical context of the Civil War and Indian Removal.

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