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Descendants gather for Sand Creek Massacre commemoration

‘We don’t want to forget the ills of the past’

sand creek commemoration event
Photo/Adam Sings In The Timber

Descendants of the Sand Creek Massacre victims gathered at Northwestern University Nov. 17 to commemorate the 154th anniversary of the massacre. They included representatives from the Northern Cheyenne (Otto Braided Hair), Northern Arapaho (Gail Ridgely), Southern Cheyenne (Karen Little Coyote) and Southern Arapaho (Fred Mosquera). 

The massacre, in which U.S. Army cavalry soldiers slaughtered approximately 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho Native Americans, most of them women and children, occurred on Nov. 29, 1864, in southeastern Colorado. John Evans, Northwestern’s founder, was governor of Colorado and territorial superintendent of Indian Affairs when the massacre occurred.

Attendants shared their stories and spoke on the massacre’s events as well as initiatives currently underway within their tribal communities to heal from the tragic event.

“Facing troubling history is a means of healing,” said Pamala Silas, associate director for community outreach and engagement at Northwestern’s Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR). “We don’t want to forget the ills of the past but at the same time we want to be able to move forward.”

A land acknowledgement was given by Patty Loew (Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe), professor and co-director CNAIR. After the panel of speakers, attendees were invited to a bonfire to share final reflections. Otto Braided Hair sang the song White Antelope sang as he was killed at Sand Creek. 

About 100 people attended the event, including students, faculty and staff. The event was sponsored by the Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance in partnership with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, Multicultural Student Affairs and the Colloquium on Indigeneity and Native American Studies.

Topics: Diversity
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