On the morning of November 29, 1864, Colonel John M. Chivington led a band of volunteer soldiers to an American Indian encampment on the Sand Creek Reservation near Eads. Troops surrounded Fort Lyon, a local military base, arrested their officers and, within hours, brutally killed around 230 people.
“Dollars, women and children were scalped with their fingers cut off to put the rings on them… while begging for their lives,” wrote Lt. Joseph A. Cramer, a soldier during the massacre.
Starting Thursday, members of the Northern and Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes from Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma and all the way to Pittsburgh, Pa., Will gather at the site of the massacre to walk or run to Denver to commemorate the 152nd anniversary of the massacre. .
After the massacre, soldiers mutilated corpses and brought body parts back to Denver for parade around the city, said Karen Wilde, the tribal liaison for the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site. Participants follow the same route to pay homage to their ancestors.
The 18th Annual Sand Creek Massacre Spiritual Healing Run, which is sponsored by the Cheyenne Tribe of Northern Montana and the Arapaho Tribe of Northern Wyoming, among others, begins Thursday at 7 a.m. with a sunrise ceremony at the monument to Eads, according to a press release.
Participants will walk or run to Denver over the next four days. The organizers expect about 500 participants from the Native American reservations in the West.
After completing the nearly 200-mile journey between the national monument and the Colorado State Capitol, participants will meet with officials from the Colorado state government, said Gail Ridgely, coordinator of the Northern Arapaho Tribe. of Wyoming. Participants will also make presentations on the history of the American Indians and the issues facing the tribes today.
“The event is in memory of our ancestors who died in Sand Creek and those who survived,” said Ridgely.
Sunday’s event will also celebrate the lives of Joseph Cramer and Captain Silas Soule, who were present at the 1864 massacre and refused to participate. The men later wrote letters to military officials who denounced Chivington and his troops, which led to inquiries by two congressional committees and an Army commission. These investigations changed the public perception of Sand Creek from a battle to a slaughter of men, women and children.
All events are open to the public, said Otto Braided Hair, an event coordinator from the Northern Montana Cheyenne Tribe. He encouraged participants to dress for the inclement weather and to call him at 406-749-4325 to find out where to join the walkers after Friday kickoff.
Next week, the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site will host a walking tour Tuesday at 10 a.m. Researcher Jeff Campbell will lead a free presentation on the Sand Creek Massacre at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Crow-Luther Cultural Events Center at 1304 Maine St. in Eads.