- The Sand Creek Massacre was a dreadful crime committed under the leadership of John Chivington against Indians who had surrendered after a peace deal.
- John Chivington was never brought to justice for his crime during the massacre including the murder of Silas Soule who testified against him during a Congressional inquest into the massacre.
The Sand Creek Massacre is also called the Chivington Massacre occurred on 29 November 1864 is among the infamous events of the Indian Wars. The gold and silver rushes of the 1850s were instrumental in driving settlements in the Rocky Mountain regions and surrounding areas. The Cheyenne and Arapaho were forced to give up their land in favour of the European settlers until 1858 at the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush when the Natives were tied of European appetite for their land.
The Natives began retaliating, attacking wagon trains, stagecoach lines and mining camps, mainly through the Civil War when the presence military in the region had significantly reduced. The conflict between the settlers and the Natives was later called the Colorado War of 1863 – 1865.
Chivington reinforced his militia and they referred to themselves as the “Hundred Dazers” the Cheyenne and Arapaho were tired of the war and were ready for peace. They, therefore, sent representatives to meet with Chivington and his militia representatives at Camp Weld, outside Denver on 28 September 1864. Though no peace treaty was signed, the Indians relying on the gesture of meeting near the army post was an indication declaring peace and accepting sanctuary.
However, during the peace talks, Chivington received communication from General Samuel Curtis his superior informing him “I want no peace until the Indians suffer more. No peace must be made without my directions.” Black Kettle and 550 Cheyenne and Arapaho travelled south to and camped on Sand Creek under the promised protection of Fort Lyon, and those who were against the peace deal went ahead north to join the Sioux.
With full knowledge of the Indian surrender, Chivington and his army of 700 most of them drinking went out to Sand Creek. The Chief held out an American and white flag over his teepee in a sign of peaceful surrender. His men attacked killing all the men, women and children who did not manage to escape. They mutilated and scalped the heads of the women, including pregnant women and children and divided their houses among themselves.
Initially, the press reported the Massacre as a victory against the Cheyenne, but eyewitness accounts gave a different story of the occurrences resulting to military and two Congressional inquests into the events. Silas Soule, a Massachusetts abolitionist and his Calvary by his command did not engage in the massacre, testified against Chivington, and was murdered by Charles W. Squires who is believed to have been ordered by Chivington.
The survivors of the massacre sought refuge to the Cheyenne Dog Warriors who opposed the peace talks. Many of the Native Indians wholly devoted themselves to fight the white settlers even in a problematic situation that resulted in the defeat and death of the majority of the natives. The massacre is also a direct result of the Little Big Horn battle.
Though the Congressional inquest concluded that heinous crimes were committed, Chivington and his crew were never brought to justice because of the massacre. Presently, there is a National Historic site commemorated in 2005 because of years of disputing the facts surrounding the massacre.