Governor Jared Polis this morning hosted an executive order signing ceremony on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol, which attempts to correct Colorado’s history regarding the state’s treatment of its Native American population .
The ordinance “rescinds the proclamations of Territorial Governor John Evans [the state’s second territorial governor] which was shamefully aimed and endangered the lives of American Indians, ”the governor’s office told reporters on Monday evening.
Polis was joined on the Capitol steps by Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera and members of the Southern Ute, Ute Mountain, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, as well as other members of the American Indian and Alaska Indian communities of Colorado.
Evans served as Colorado’s second territorial governor for three years of the Civil War, 1862-1865. Although Mount Evans and the town of Evans both bear his name, his record to Colorado’s early occupiers was shameful.
Not only did he not alleviate the mostly irrational fears of settlers that their new settlements, including Denver, would be overrun by Indians, but he resigned after being held responsible for the Sand Creek massacre.
At dawn on November 29, 1864, approximately 675 American volunteer soldiers commanded by Colonel John M. Chivington attacked a village of about 750 Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians encamped along Sand Creek in the southeastern Colorado Territory. They were there by order of the government, very close to a cavalry fort. Under Evan’s order, the cavalry ordered to go there slaughtered an entire tribe of peaceful Indians, mostly women, children and the elderly. Some members of the cavalry stationed at the fort, who had had contact with the peaceful tribes, refused to participate in the massacre.
Given its less-than-stellar performance linked to the original occupants of the state, a movement is underway to rename Mount Evans; among the most recognizable peaks visible from the Denver subway.