Nov 182014

This is a photo of Black Kettle and other Cheyenne chiefs during peace talks with Major Edward W. Wynkoop at Fort Weld, Colorado (September 1864). Three months later in November, Black Kettle and his people were massacred at Sand Creek.

Difficult to read, but sometimes we have a duty to read difficult things. Alan Gilbert gives a detailed account of the run-up to the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, and then tracks the collective amnesia that has allowed some of its perpetrators to maintain historical reputations unblemished. Among other things he quotes this letter, an eyewitness account by Captain S. S. Soule, who commanded a company.


The massacre lasted six or eight hours, and a good many Indians escaped. I tell you Ned it was hard to see little children on their knees, have their brains beat out by men professing to be civilized. One Squaw was wounded, and a fellow took a hatchet to finish her, she held her arms up to defend her, and he cut one arm off, and held the other with one hand, and dashed the hatchet through her brain. One Squaw with her two children, were on their knees, begging for their lives, of a dozen soldiers, within ten feet of them all firing—when one succeeded in hitting the Squaw in the thigh, when she took a knife and cut the throats of both children, and then killed herself. One old Squaw hung herself in the lodges—there was not enough room for her to hang and she held up her knees and choked herself to death. Some tried to escape on the Prairie, but most of them were run down by horsemen. I saw two Indians [take] hold of one anothers hands, chased until they were exhausted, when they kneeled down, and clasped each other around the neck and were both shot together, they were all scalped, and as high as half a dozen taken from one head. They were all horribly mutilated. One woman was cut open, and a child taken out of her, and scalped.

Read the rest as Amnesia: Spain, Sand Creek, Oklahoma, Germany » 3:AM Magazine.


  5 Responses to “Amnesia: Spain, Sand Creek, Oklahoma, Germany — Alan Gilbert @ 3:AM Magazine”

  1. So familiar from other first hand accouts, like Black Elk at Wouded Knee. And I am reminded of the psychopathic frenzy that has posessed others from our particular set of social assmuptions,
    when they fail to cohere–in this case, with brown-skined people, those in villages like My Lai.

  2. My God – hard to read is right. Important, but definitely painful.

  3. Here is a link to an interesting op-ed piece about the Sand Creek Massacre from the Nov. 27 NY Times online. Northwestern University was founded by a group of Methodist leaders that included John Evans, and the town where Northwestern is located, Evanston, IL, is named after Evans.

    I grew up in a northern suburb of Chicago, and I lived in Evanston for several years after I left my parents’ home. I didn’t know about Evans’ connection to the Sand Creek atrocity until now. It appears that Northwestern U. is recognizing Evans’ culpability, but I wonder if the vast majority of current residents of Evanston will be made aware of it, or would care if they knew.

    • Excellent. Thanks, Larry. I saw the NY Times headline but didn’t have the time read it before. Very curious the way the tentacles of history reach down into the present.

  4. Thanks for posting this, Doug. Fascinating how the connecting threads and truths are being slowly exposed (those desecrated dead just won’t stay buried) and our North American (hi)stories, founded on dissociation and denial, are crumbling (and occasionally getting sledgehammered). Bring it on.

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