This Week's Feature

Sand Creek Massacre

This quiet tributary in eastern Colorado was meant to be a place of peace. Instead, it marks one of our nation’s greatest tragedies.

By Clay Swartz - COWBOYS & INDIANS

It’s dawn, November 29, 1864.

The sun is barely peekabooing over the mountainous horizon in southern Colorado Territory, sparkling across the chilly waters of Big Sandy Creek.

In a tiny, tucked-away pocket of riverbed flatland, bands of Arapaho and Southern Cheyenne are camped. In total, more than 400 American Indians are quietly preparing for the day.

Around the river bend, Col. John Milton Chivington, of the U.S. Volunteers, is briefing nearly 1,000 heavily armed men for battle. (Most are still drunk from anticipatory revelry the night before.) They’ve marched nearly 50 midnight miles, and they’re ready to fight.

What comes next will forever be remembered as one of the most infamous and deadly incidents in all of the American Indian Wars.

Time Of War

The American Indian Wars bridge more than 200 years of conflicts between Native Americans and New World settlers, spanning across the entirety of the United States, from the Powhatan Indian Attack in 1622, when Powhatan Indians retaliate against the encroaching Virginia colonists, to the end of the Apache Wars in 1886, after Geronimo surrenders in Arizona’s Skeleton Canyon.