Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sand Creek Massacre Revisited

The cold has settled in for awhile, apparently.  I have much more congestion, fever and chills, a headache and I feel like I've been run over by a truck - just squashed flat and with absolutely no energy.  Rosie and Remy slept much better than I did last night.  At least I stayed at home yesterday and did not go to Niwot and infect the extended family...  It was 12 degrees this morning - supposed to stay clear and get up to freezing before noon, with clouds coming in and causing the temperature at the beginning of the Broncos game to be in the upper 20s (then the sun goes down behind the Rockies, and everyone will turn into icicles).       I am still with Rosie and Remy so far this morning - I'll go home and watch most of the Jets game with Lovey and Nedi, and return here for the rest of the day (and the Broncos game, followed by the Redskins game).
  I was a little miffed yesterday that the History page listed the anniversary of  "the Battle of Wounded Knee" in 1890.  Battle?  It was a massacre performed by the US Army; there was no battle! Then in today's Denver Post, there was an article about the descendants of the survivors of the Sand Creek Massacre (here in Colorado, at dawn of the 29th of November 1864) still trying to collect the land and monies promised in a treaty in 1867.  A mixed village of Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes were camped along the dry bottom of Sand Creek - the able-bodied men (or warriors, if you wish) were out hunting buffalo, antelope, deer for the community cook pots.  Colonel Chivington of Denver led  several hundred men in attack at dawn.  The chiefs of these tribes were known to be friendly; the Natives were flying an American flag and a white flag (to show they were peaceful) when Chivington ordered his men to attack. One hundred and sixty two people were killed on the spot - all children, women, and elderly men.  Some white traders were visiting the camp; they, too, were killed; Chief Niwot (or Left Hand) was killed.  There were a little over 20 survivors, who buried themselves in the sand of the dry creek, or who managed to bury back into two caves.  After the Indians were killed, atrocities were committed upon their bodies; both male and female genitalia were cut from bodies and taken by  the Army men as "battle trophies."  A pregnant woman was shot in the shoulder, and her abdomen and womb were ripped open by knives, and the child crushed against a rock.  When the US Army conducted their military hearing about Sand Creek, Chivington had retired, and faced zero charges and paid no penalties.  The other, still-enlisted, men received a dishonorable discharge; but that was the limit of their punishment. -  This is the kind of horrific treatment that seems to be the basis for today's mass killings - "Hey! - It's fun! I'm gonna go kill a bunch of people!"
  A young man, recently returned from the Civil War, whose father was a trader and whose mother was a Cheyenne, witnessed the attack.  Having no weapons, and seeing others being shot and killed without mercy, he managed to hide in a cave.  This young man had been raised as a Cheyenne, in a tribal camp until the age of 7; then he was sent to a white school in St. Louis, Missouri, to learn the ways of his father and other white men. After the Sand Creek Massacre, this young man joined a band of renegade Cheyenne braves, and they pillaged and killed any white settlements or settlers they came across in Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska.  Several years later, the man decided to be an emissary for the local Native Americans - he did his best to record all of the "old ways" so that future generations would not forget an already disappearing way of life.  He encouraged writers and photographers to visit and document the ways of the Native Americans of many tribes, and he, himself, wrote his own story.  He regretted much - but what hurt him most was that he was forever branded a "half breed"; after the Sand Creek Massacre and his year with the rampaging braves, the white people didn't trust him.  Because he was half white, and became an interpreter for the US Government, the native tribesmen did not trust him.  He was truly a man between two peoples, and I wish I could have known him.  His name was George Bent, and his father and uncle established Bent's Fort in Colorado in the early 1830s.

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