A Massacre of History in Colorado

Article subtitle: 
The main victim in this exhibit is history itself
Article author: 
Bruce Gilley
Article publisher: 
American Greatness
Article date: 
9 December 2023
Article category: 
Colorado News
Article Body: 

Every school child in Colorado is taught about the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864. On a wintry day in November of that year, an untrained and undisciplined territorial militia attacked an Indian camp near the eastern border of the territory leaving 150 to 200 dead. The tragedy has long been the subject of roiling debate about who or what was to blame. When the History Colorado Center opened a new exhibit on the event in 2012, visitors were offered competing perspectives of Indian, soldier, and settler.

The exhibit was immediately assailed by native activists for not taking an exclusively “indigenous perspective.” They demanded “co-authorship” of the exhibit, which was shut down. Last year, a revised exhibit opened, greased by a $400,000 federal grant. The History Colorado Center announced proudly that the entire show had been “vetted and approved by tribal representatives.”...

The result is a farce. It portrays the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes whose members were killed that day as peaceable spiritualists who spent their days nurturing family and staring at the skies...

A little history. The allied tribes of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians migrated to the Colorado territory from present-day South Dakota in the 1830s fleeing tribal conflicts. They had been on these “traditional homelands,” as the exhibition calls them, for less time than many white settlers. The American civil war weakened security in the Western territories just as white settlement was increasing...

In Spring 1864, the Cheyenne and Arapaho began attacking farms, wagon trains, and stage coaches, usually leaving a dozen to two dozen dead with every raid. “Family time” for the tribes included a lot of time managing the babies and women they kidnapped...

But if the purpose was to tell the truth and encourage critical thinking, then the exhibit has no place in a public museum. The tribes have done exactly what the white rebels did after the massacre by telling a one-sided story filled with bloodlust against the enemy...


Scalp Dance: Indian Warfare on the High Plains, 1865-1879, by Thomas Goodrich, 2002. Some of the most savage wars in world history were waged on the American Plains from 1865 to 1879. The author presents the big picture, while including vivid first person accounts of bloody and heinous actions - particularly of Indian tribes. No detail is spared. Plains Indians were not the "noble savages" portrayed in today's politically-correct environment.