Haaland: US expanding Native American massacre site - Albuquerque Journal

Haaland: US expanding Native American massacre site

DENVER — Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced an expansion Wednesday of a National Park Service historical site dedicated to t he massacre by U.S. troops of more than 200 Native Americans in what is now southeastern Colorado.

Haaland, the first Native American to lead a U.S. Cabinet agency, made the announcement during a solemn ceremony at the Sand Creek Massacre National Historical Site about 170 miles (272 kilometers) southeast of Denver to honor the dead, survivors and their descendants.

The move marks the latest step taken by Haaland to act on issues important to Native Americans in her role as Interior Secretary. Haaland’s “Tribal Homelands Initiative” supports fundraising to buy land and requires federal managers to seek out Indigenous knowledge about resources.

Haaland’s selection to lead the federal agency that has wielded influence over the nation’s tribes for nearly two centuries was hailed as historic by Democrats and tribal groups who said it meant that Indigenous people — who lived in North America before the United States was created — would for the first time see a Native American lead the powerful department where decisions on relations with the nearly 600 federally recognized tribes are made.

Earlier this year, the agency released a first-of-its-kind report about Native American boarding schools that the U.S. government supported to strip Indigenous people of their cultures and identities. She has also formally declared “squaw” a derogatory term and taken steps to remove it from federal government use and to replace other derogatory place names.

Expansion of the Sand Creek Massacre site will provide more opportunities for visitors to learn about the 1864 massacre of Cheyenne and Arapaho, most of them women and children, Haaland said Wednesday. She declared that it is her department’s “solemn responsibility” to “tell the story of our nation.”

“The events that took place here forever changed the course of the Northern Cheyenne, Northern Arapaho, and Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes,” she said. “We will never forget the hundreds of lives that were brutally taken here – men, women and children murdered in an unprovoked attack. Stories like the Sand Creek Massacre are not easy to tell but it is my duty – our duty – to ensure that they are told. This story is part of America’s story.”

The historic site near Eads, Colorado, preserves the haunting landscape of the Nov. 29, 1864, attack by a volunteer U.S. Cavalry regiment. Troops swept into a sleeping encampment of 750 Native Americans along Sand Creek, killing more than 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho, most of them women, children and the elderly.

The expedition ostensibly was to retaliate for Native American raids on white settlers. Soldiers carried body parts back to Denver in celebration. But some commanders refused to attack, saying Native American leaders who believed they had made peace with the U.S. commander of nearby Fort Lyon tried to wave white flags. Congress condemned leader Col. John M. Chivington for an unprovoked massacre.

Max Bear, the tribal historic preservation officer for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, welcomed Haaland’s homage as sustaining the storytelling mission he and countless others have dedicated their lives to.

“We don’t want our children and grandchildren to fight an uphill battle to know what happened to our folks,” said Bear, a descendant of Cheyenne Chief Black Whiteman, who sought food and shelter for the widowed and the orphaned after the attack.

Whiteman also signed the Treaty of Medicine Lodge in 1867, intended to end retaliatory Indian raids by forcibly settling Cheyenne, Arapaho and other tribes to reservations on “Indian Territory” in what is now Oklahoma, Bear said.

“We weren’t at war. … You can’t call Sand Creek a battle,” Bear said. “In this time of book banning, I think it’s more important than ever that our history be told correctly.”

Sand Creek was established as a National Park Service historic site in 2007. The service has collaborated with the Northern Cheyenne of Montana, the Northern Arapaho of Wyoming and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma.

The new expansion also will preserve what Haaland called one of the largest intact shortgrass prairie ecosystems within the National Park system.

In recent years, Colorado officials have attempted redress.

State and U.S. officials are preparing to rename Mount Evans, a prominent Rocky Mountains peak named after Territorial Governor John Evans, who resigned after the Sand Creek massacre.

Last year, Gov. Jared Polis rescinded an 1864 proclamation by Evans that called for citizens to kill Native Americans and take their property. In 2014, Gov. John Hickenlooper apologized on the state’s behalf to tribal members on the 150th anniversary of the massacre.

Tribal representatives, National Parks Service Director Chuck Sams and Colorado officials, including Hickenklooper, now a U.S. senator, attended Wednesday’s ceremony.

Incorporating land from a private seller, the expansion was financed by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, established by Congress in 1964, and Great Outdoors Colorado, which invests state lottery proceeds to wildland preservation. The lands include significant archaeological remains and are considered sacred by the tribes.

Home » Around the Region » Haaland: US expanding Native American massacre site


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
University of New Mexico's plan for massive development project ...
ABQnews Seeker
Plan to use tax money for ... Plan to use tax money for site's development under scrutiny
2
End of the line: Why some New Mexicans may ...
ABQnews Seeker
NM Medicaid enrollees warned: Yearly requalifications ... NM Medicaid enrollees warned: Yearly requalifications on horizon again
3
A tiny NM-TX border town is raking in recreational ...
ABQnews Seeker
Customers begin lining up on a ... Customers begin lining up on a hot Friday afternoon in mid-October at Ultra Health in Sunland Park. Just a three-minute drive away, others are ...
4
A man lost his leg after being run over ...
ABQnews Seeker
Lawsuit claims forklift operator, store did ... Lawsuit claims forklift operator, store did not take proper precautions
5
Albuquerque Police Department: Man hospitalized after stabbing
ABQnews Seeker
Victim in stable condition after multiple ... Victim in stable condition after multiple stab wounds, police say
6
How NMSU researchers are getting to the root of ...
ABQnews Seeker
'We are going to build a ... 'We are going to build a picture of what makes these plants tick,' says Richard Heerema, NMSU pecan specialist
7
The annual Rio Grande Arts and Crafts Festival Holiday ...
ABQnews Seeker
In its 22nd year, the holiday ... In its 22nd year, the holiday show featured the work of 165 artists
8
NM National Guard delivers donated freezers to families affected ...
ABQnews Seeker
Freezers were given to San Miguel ... Freezers were given to San Miguel and Mora county residents after damage caused by fire or related power outages
9
Udeze's monster game, defense late lead Lobos to blowout ...
ABQnews Seeker
Morris Udeze had 33 points and ... Morris Udeze had 33 points and 14 rebounds, earning the Lobo Classic MVP award, and led UNM to a blowout win over Northern Colorado.
10
Robert Mirabal uses music to deliver a message of ...
ABQnews Seeker
Grammy Award-winner Robert Mirabal is reinstating ... Grammy Award-winner Robert Mirabal is reinstating his annual show in December, which he did for 28 years prior to the pandemic causing a three-year ...