143rd Anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre of Nov. 29th, 1864

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Chief Black Kettle:

I want you to give all these chiefs of the soldiers here to understand that we are for peace, and that we have made peace, that we may not be mistaken by them for enemies.

A Cheyenne cemetery is in the same direction as where my mother told me she watched gypsies camp through her west window as a girl, about ½ mile from that house. I have reverently walked though that Cheyenne cemetery as early as ten, looking at the headstones and wondering who they were and where they came from. I did not know then, that in that cemetery were descendants from the Sand Creek Massacre.  

The Approaching Genocide Towards Sand Creek

Simultaneously, Roman Nose led the Dog Soldiers in battle while Black Kettle strove for peace. Chief Black Kettle was promised complete safety by Colonel Greenwood as long as he rose the U.S flag above him.(1) Black Kettle persisted in his calls for peace in spite of the continuing exterminations and the shooting of Lean Bear.

(All bold mine)


Lean Bear, a leading peacemaker who had previously met with President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C., was shot from his horse without warning by U.S. troops during a Kansas buffalo hunt.
The troops were acting under orders from Colonel John M. Chivington who commanded the military district of Colorado: “Find Indians wherever you can and kill them” (The War of the Rebellion, 1880-1881, pp. 403-404).

Perplexed by the continuing genocide, Black Kettle sent for Little White Man, known as William Bent.Almost prophetic, both agreed in their meeting that a war was about to be born if nothing changed. Black Kettle’s peaceful attempts tragically failed, even though he took his people to Sand Creek, fully expecting peace.His last effort for peace was raising the U.S. flag just prior to the massacre.


“…Though no treaties were signed, the Indians believed that by reporting and camping near army posts, they would be declaring peace and accepting sanctuary.

However on the day of the “peace talks” Chivington received a telegram from General Samuel Curtis (his superior officer) informing him that “I want no peace till the Indians suffer more…No peace must be made without my directions.”

Unaware of Curtis’s telegram, Black Kettle and some 550 Cheyennes and Arapahos, having made their peace, traveled south to set up camp on Sand Creek under the promised protection of Fort Lyon. Those who remained opposed to the agreement headed North to join the Sioux.

The Sand Creek Massacre of November 29, 1864

Black Kettle and his people had every reason to expect complete safety from their bloodshed after agreements for peace were made and the Dog Soldiers left to join the Sioux. Nonetheless, Chivington’s troops advanced on the Cheyenne and Arapaho near dawn. The sound of those approaching hooves must have sounded ominous.

U.S. soldiers inevitably chased the defenseless Cheyenne and Arapaho by horse and foot with knives and guns in hand. Their victims had to be positioned before ripping off their scalps, cutting off their ears, smashing out their brains, butchering their children, tearing their breastfeeding infants away from their mother’s breasts, and then murdering those infants. The “Bloody Third” soldiers necessarily had to kill the infants before cutting out their mother’s genitals

The one question I never saw asked in the congressional hearings was, “Didn’t you disgraceful soldiers realize they were family?”

Kurt Kaltreider, PH.D. “American Indian Prophecies.” pp. 58-59:

-The report of witnesses at Sand Creek:

“I saw some Indians that had been scalped, and the ears cut off the body of White Antelope,” said Captain L. Wilson of the first Colorado Cavalry. “One Indian who had been scalped had also his skull smashed in, and I heard that the privates of White Antelope had been cut off to make a tobacco bag of. I heard some of the men say that the privates of one of the squaws had been cut out and put on a stick…”

John S. Smith…

All manner of depredations were inflicted on their persons; they were scalped, their brains knocked out; the men used their knives, ripped open women, clubbed little children, knocked them in the heads with their guns, beat their brains out, mutilated their bodies in every sense of the word…worse mutilation that I ever saw before, the women all cut to pieces…children two or three months old; all ages lying there.

From sucking infants up to warriors.

Sand Creek being a deliberate massacre is not contested, especially since the “Bloody Third” set the village in flames and took all the evidence back to Washington to hide it.


Letters written by those at Sand Creek From Lt. Silas Soule to Maj. Edward Wynkoop, Dec. 14, 1864:

“The massacre lasted six or eight hours…I tell you Ned it was hard to see little children on their knees have their brains beat out by men professing to be civilized….They were all scalped, and as high as a half a dozen [scalps] taken from one head. They were all horribly mutilated…You could think it impossible for white men to butcher and mutilate human beings as they did there, but every word I have told you is the truth, which they do not deny…I expect we will have a hell of a time with Indians this winter.”


Before departing, the command, now the “Bloody Third”, ransacked and burned the village.
The surviving Indians, some 300 people, fled north towards other Cheyenne camps.

Medicine Calf Beckwourth sought Black Kettle to ask him if peace was yet possible, but Black Kettle had moved out to be with relatives. Leg-in-the-Water replaced him as the primary chief; so, Beckwourth asked Leg-in-the-Water if there could be peace. Principle chief Leg-in-the-Water responded with these powerful words.

Dee Brown. “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.” p. 94:

“The white man has taken our country, killed all of our children. Now no peace. We want to go meet our families in the spirit land. We loved the whites until we found out they lied to us, and robbed us of what we had. We have raised the battle ax until death.”(1)


…despite broken promises and attacks on his own life, speak of him as a great leader with an almost unique vision of the possibility for coexistence between white society and the culture of the plains…


1 Comment

  1. … that my friend Tim Kloberdanz (Kiowa) and I, as part of the Student Crusade for Amerindian Rights (SCAR) started efforts in 1971 to strip the name of David Nichols off a dormitory at the University of Colorado and replace it with Vokivecumsemosta (White Antelope, an Arapahoe of the Hisometainio clan killed at Sand Creek).

    Nichols was a captain at the massacre and is often reputed to have been the man who turned to Colonel Chivington and asked if he really wanted the women and children killed, too. Chivington supposedly replied: “Nits make lice.” I say “supposedly” because several people have been said to have mouthed these words in relation to Indians and other hated groups. The first was Tennessee Governor (and “Indian fighter”) John Sevier in 1810. Perhaps Chivington was only repeating a common phrase. Or perhaps he never said it. The sentiment was there whether he did or not.

    The CU student body voted in a referendum for the name change, but the regents refused because Nichols’s descendants still lived in the area and they didn’t want to offend them! The Regents claimed they were not in the business of renaming buildings, even though Nichols Hall itself came into being when Fleming Hall was renamed in 1961. Nichols was chosen because he had contributed to getting CU funded, and had been the Speaker of the Territorial Legislature 10 years after the massacre.

    Then, in 1987, students again became riled over Sand Creek and Nichols Hall, and Professor Patricia Limerick, an historian who later became a MacArthur Genius Award winner, researched the issue, which you can read her excellent analysis .

    Subsequently, the dormitory was renamed Cheyenne-Arapahoe Hall and, in 1988, the White Antelope Memorial Scholarship Program was founded.

    Here are some of the names of those reputed to have been killed at Sand Creek, according to various sources:

    Vo-ke-cha/White Hat

    Na-ko-ne-tum/Bear Skin or Robe

    Na-ko-yu-sus/Wounded Bear

    O-ko-che-voh-i-tan/Crow Necklace

    No-ko-a-mine/Bear Feathers

    Ne-sko-mo-ne/Two Lances

    O-ne-mok-tan/Black Wolf

    Vo-ki-ve-cum-se-mos-ta/White Antelope

    E-se-ma-ki/One Eye

    Ne-so-min-ni/Tall Bear

    Co-kah-you-son-ne/Feather Head

    On-ne-ma(hito)/Tall or Big Wolf

    O-ka-cha-his-ta/Heap of Crows –

    killed were both a father and son

    of the same name,

    and the sons wife and children.

    O-ko-che-vo-voi-se/Spotted Crow

    Ma-pa-vin-iste/Standing Water

    Make-ti-he/Big Head

    Mah-she-ne-(ve)/Red Arm

    No-ko-ist/Sitting Bear


    Mak-o-wah/Big Shell

    O-ne-ah-tah/Wolf Mule

    Ve-hoe/White Man

    Oh-to-mai-ha/Tall Bull

    Mok-tow/Black Horse

    Oh-co-mo-on-est/Yellow Wolf

    No-veh-yah/Loser in the Race


    Ta-ik-ha-seh/Cut Nose


    No-ko-nis-seh/Lame Bear

    Oh-tam-i-mi-neh/Dog Coming Up

    Why-mih-est/Foot Tracks

    One-vah-kies/Bob-Tail Wolf

    Mo-ke-kah/Blue Crane


    Ni-het/Mound Of Rocks

    Vos-ti-o-kist/White Calf

    Oh-e-vil/(Morning Star or Dull Knife,

        listed as Black Kettles brother)

    Min-ne-no-ah/Whirlwind or Standing Bear

        Mi-hah-min-est/Spirit Walking

    Wost-sa-sa-mi/White Crane

    Wi-can-noh/Forked Stick


    Mah-hite/(Iron ?)

    Mah-ki-mish-yov/Big Child

    Man-i-tan/Red Paint

    To-ha-voh-yest/White Faced Bull

    No-ko-ny-u-/Kills Bear

    No-ko-nih-tyes/Big Louse

    O-ha-ni-no/Man On Hill

    Mah-voh-ca-mist/White Beaver

    Mah-in-ne-est/Turtle Following His Wife

    Mak-iv-veya-tah/Wooden Leg

    O-ma-ish-po/Big Smoke

    Ne-o-mi-ve-yuh/Sand Hill

    Mo-ha-yah/Elk AKA Cohoe

    Van-nit-tah/Spanish Woman

    O-tat-ta-wah/Blue Horse


    Cut Lip Bear

    Smoke or Big Smoke

    One Eye

    Big Man

    Cheyenne Chief Left Hand.

    Kah-makt/ Stick or Wood;

    Oh-no-mis-ta/Wolf That Hears;

    Co-se-to/Painted or Pointed Tomahawk;

    Ta-na-ha-ta/One Leg;

    O-tah-nis-to(te)/Bull That Hears;

    O-tah-nis-ta-to-ve/Seven Bulls

    Mis-ti-mah/Big Owl

    No-ko-i-yan/Bear Shield

    Vo-ki-mok-tan/Black Antelope

    O-to-a-yest-yet/Bull Neck


    Non-ne/Lame Man, White Bear or Curious Horn

    O-ne-na-vist/Wolf Horn

    Com-sev-vah/Shriveled Leg

    O-ne-i-nis-to/Wolf That Speaks or

        Howling Wolf

    No-ko-i-kat/Little Bear

    O-ne-mi-yesp/Flying Bird

    Moh-sehna-vo-voit/Spotted Horse

    Ish-ho-me-ne/Rising Sun

    Wip-puh-tah/Empty Belly

    Mah-oist/Red Sheath


    Meh-on-ne/Making Road

    O-ko-oh-tu-eh/Bull Pup,

    Male Crow O-ye-kis/Man Who Peeps Over The Hill

    O-ne-i-kit/Little wolf


    Mok-tok-kah/Wolf Road

    O-ha-va-man/Scabby Man


    A-st-yet/Bushy Head

    Ca-sum-mi/Wolf Grey

    Kah-i-nist-teh/Standing Skunk

    Kast-yah/Lean Belly

    No-ko-mi-kis/Old bear

    Tah-vo-tuveh/Mad Bull

    Vo-tou-yah/Tall Bird

    No-ko-se-vist/? Bear

    Es-toh/Stuffed Gut

    Oh-mah/Little Beaver

    Mah-hi-vist/Red Bird

    Ve-hoe/White Man

    O-ko-che-ut-tan-yuh/Male Crow

    E-yo-vah-hi-heh/Yellow Woman

    Min-hit-it-tan-yeh/Male Cherry

    A-ya-ma-na-kuh/Bear Above

    O-kin-neh/Smooth Face

    No-ku-hist/(Possibly White Bear)

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