This Day in History - November 29, 1864: 133 Cheyenne & Arapaho Massacred at Sand Creek
November 30, 2020
THIS DAY IN HISTORY - On November 29, 1864, seven hundred members of the Colorado Territory militia embarked on an attack of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian villages. The militia was led by U.S. Army Col. John Chivington, a Methodist preacher, as well as a freemason. After a night of heavy drinking by the soldiers, Chivington ordered the massacre of the Indians. Over two-thirds of the slaughtered and maimed were women and children. This savage atrocity has been known as the Sand Creek Massacre ever since.
While the exact number of American Indians killed that day varies, award-winning historian Alan Brinkley wrote that 133 Indians were killed, 105 of whom were women and children.
For years, the United States had been engaged in conflict with several Indian tribes over territory. The Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851 had given the Indians extensive territory, but the Pikes Peak gold rush in 1858 and other factors had persuaded the U.S. to renegotiate the terms of the treaty. In 1861, the Treaty of Fort Wise was signed by Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho chiefs. The treaty took from the Indians much of the land given to them by the earlier treaty, reducing the size of their reservation land to about 1/13th of the original amount.