Visiting the Sand Creek Massacre site

On a trip organized by the Boulder History Museum, a group of us traveled by bus to the site of the Sand Creek Massacre on Saturday, September 15.  I was thrilled to see a new memorial to Captain Silas Soule in a pleasant picnic area, where we later ate lunch:

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The yellow display on the left is an image of Soule’s handwritten letter to Major Ned Wynkoop, describing the terrible things that happened during the massacre. On the backside is a similar letter written by Joseph Cramer, another soldier from the Colorado First Cavalry.

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The site now has an area where the remains of people killed in the massacre have been and continue to be repatriated and given proper burial by members of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. This has been made possible since the passage of NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act). Most of these remains have been sitting in storage in museums for the past century and a half. The graves are unmarked but the burial grounds are delineated by a wooden fence at each corner.

Further up, the trail leads to a bluff where you can see across the prairie for a good number of miles. This vast area was the site of the Cheyenne and Arapaho camp that was attacked on the morning of November 29, 1864.

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A series of signs along the way provide a description of what happened. Our knowledgeable tour guide, Ranger Jeff Campbell, was an excellent host.

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Although I’ve read and written a lot on the subject of Sand Creek and invariably find it distressing to read about and talk about, I found the site to be strangely peaceful and calming.

Here’s a link for info about the site.

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