In Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Sand Creek, Governor Hickenlooper Apologizes

December 4, 2014
Tribal leaders and others gather outside the state capitol to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre.Credit Bente Birkeland / RMCR
Tribal leaders and others gather outside the state capitol to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre.

Governor John Hickenlooper has apologized on behalf of the state of Colorado for the Sand Creek Massacre. The Massacre happened in the early morning of November 29th, 1864.  U.S. Calvary soldiers converged on a sleeping group of mostly women, children and elderly Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians. The 150 year-old event is one of the most notable incidents of violence against Native Americans in the history of the west. 

“To all indigenous people and the proud and painful legacy you all represent, on behalf of the loving people of Colorado. I want to say I am sorry for the atrocities of our government that were visited on your ancestors,” said Hickenlooper.

He spoke at the state capitol as hundreds gathered to commemorate the anniversary and wrap up a four day spiritual healing run from the site of the Massacre near Eads, to Denver.

Hickenlooper called the apology long overdue. He said he didn’t make it lightly, and consulted with all of Colorado’s former living Governors who agreed the state should not be afraid to criticize that which is inexcusable.  

“That stretches back 40 years and each one of them agrees and is spirit standing beside me,” said Hickenlooper.

In addition to the Governor’s formal apology, state lawmakers passed a resolution earlier this year session to commemorate the 150th anniversary.

“We’ve got to make sure it’s a stepping stone to continue building upon relationships, and get to a point where we don’t have these kinds of atrocities,” said main sponsor Tim Dore (R-Elizabeth).

Native Americans from the Arapaho and Cheyenne Tribes in Oklahoma said the apology and state recognition mean a lot. They encourage people to visit the Sand Creek National Historic site and learn about the events of that day, and hope it helps create a deeper understanding and brighter future.

KRCC's Andrea Chalfin visited the site in Eads in 2011.  You can revisit that story HERE.

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