Chief Black Kettle:
I want you to give all these chiefs of the soldiers here to understand that we are for peace, and that we have made peace, that we may not be mistaken by them for enemies.
A Cheyenne cemetery is in the same direction as where my mother told me she watched gypsies camp through her west window as a girl, about ½ mile from that house. I have reverently walked though that Cheyenne cemetery as early as ten, looking at the headstones and wondering who they were and where they came from. I did not know then, that in that cemetery were descendants from the Sand Creek Massacre.
The Approaching Genocide Towards Sand Creek
Simultaneously, Roman Nose led the Dog Soldiers in battle while Black Kettle strove for peace. Chief Black Kettle was promised complete safety by Colonel Greenwood as long as he rose the U.S flag above him.(1) Black Kettle persisted in his calls for peace in spite of the continuing exterminations and the shooting of Lean Bear.
(All bold mine)
Lean Bear, a leading peacemaker who had previously met with President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C., was shot from his horse without warning by U.S. troops during a Kansas buffalo hunt.
The troops were acting under orders from Colonel John M. Chivington who commanded the military district of Colorado: “Find Indians wherever you can and kill them” (The War of the Rebellion, 1880-1881, pp. 403-404).
Perplexed by the continuing genocide, Black Kettle sent for Little White Man, known as William Bent.Almost prophetic, both agreed in their meeting that a war was about to be born if nothing changed. Black Kettle’s peaceful attempts tragically failed, even though he took his people to Sand Creek, fully expecting peace.His last effort for peace was raising the U.S. flag just prior to the massacre.
“…Though no treaties were signed, the Indians believed that by reporting and camping near army posts, they would be declaring peace and accepting sanctuary.
However on the day of the “peace talks” Chivington received a telegram from General Samuel Curtis (his superior officer) informing him that “I want no peace till the Indians suffer more…No peace must be made without my directions.”
Unaware of Curtis’s telegram, Black Kettle and some 550 Cheyennes and Arapahos, having made their peace, traveled south to set up camp on Sand Creek under the promised protection of Fort Lyon. Those who remained opposed to the agreement headed North to join the Sioux.
The Sand Creek Massacre of November 29, 1864
Black Kettle and his people had every reason to expect complete safety from their bloodshed after agreements for peace were made and the Dog Soldiers left to join the Sioux. Nonetheless, Chivington’s troops advanced on the Cheyenne and Arapaho near dawn. The sound of those approaching hooves must have sounded ominous.
U.S. soldiers inevitably chased the defenseless Cheyenne and Arapaho by horse and foot with knives and guns in hand. Their victims had to be positioned before ripping off their scalps, cutting off their ears, smashing out their brains, butchering their children, tearing their breastfeeding infants away from their mother’s breasts, and then murdering those infants. The “Bloody Third” soldiers necessarily had to kill the infants before cutting out their mother’s genitals
The one question I never saw asked in the congressional hearings was, “Didn’t you disgraceful soldiers realize they were family?”
Kurt Kaltreider, PH.D. “American Indian Prophecies.” pp. 58-59:
-The report of witnesses at Sand Creek:
“I saw some Indians that had been scalped, and the ears cut off the body of White Antelope,” said Captain L. Wilson of the first Colorado Cavalry. “One Indian who had been scalped had also his skull smashed in, and I heard that the privates of White Antelope had been cut off to make a tobacco bag of. I heard some of the men say that the privates of one of the squaws had been cut out and put on a stick…”
John S. Smith…
All manner of depredations were inflicted on their persons; they were scalped, their brains knocked out; the men used their knives, ripped open women, clubbed little children, knocked them in the heads with their guns, beat their brains out, mutilated their bodies in every sense of the word…worse mutilation that I ever saw before, the women all cut to pieces…children two or three months old; all ages lying there.
Sand Creek being a deliberate massacre is not contested, especially since the “Bloody Third” set the village in flames and took all the evidence back to Washington to hide it.
Letters written by those at Sand Creek From Lt. Silas Soule to Maj. Edward Wynkoop, Dec. 14, 1864:
“The massacre lasted six or eight hours…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….They were all scalped, and as high as a half a dozen [scalps] taken from one head. They were all horribly mutilated…You could think it impossible for white men to butcher and mutilate human beings as they did there, but every word I have told you is the truth, which they do not deny…I expect we will have a hell of a time with Indians this winter.”
Before departing, the command, now the “Bloody Third”, ransacked and burned the village.
The surviving Indians, some 300 people, fled north towards other Cheyenne camps.
Medicine Calf Beckwourth sought Black Kettle to ask him if peace was yet possible, but Black Kettle had moved out to be with relatives. Leg-in-the-Water replaced him as the primary chief; so, Beckwourth asked Leg-in-the-Water if there could be peace. Principle chief Leg-in-the-Water responded with these powerful words.
Dee Brown. “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.” p. 94:
“The white man has taken our country, killed all of our children. Now no peace. We want to go meet our families in the spirit land. We loved the whites until we found out they lied to us, and robbed us of what we had. We have raised the battle ax until death.”(1)
…despite broken promises and attacks on his own life, speak of him as a great leader with an almost unique vision of the possibility for coexistence between white society and the culture of the plains…