The atrocities of the Sand Creek Massacre should be reminders to all of us that dehumanization and fear have led to some of the darkest moments in our history. But the Cheyenne and Arapaho people are not defined by the massacre, even though they live with the scars it left behind. They are modern people who have invited Coloradans to learn more about the massacre, and also about their rich Tribal histories and strong traditions that live on today.
This syllabus is meant to help all of us accept that invitation. It is a selection of resources that members of the three Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes have suggested and helped produce. It reflects years of work by Tribal oral historians and other experts who have kept the stories alive.
There is much still to learn about the Sand Creek Massacre. We hope these resources offer a starting point for education, reflection, and healing.
This exhibition at the History Colorado Center is the first to tell the history of the betrayal at Sand Creek from the perspectives of Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal representatives, drawn from oral histories that have been passed down for generations.
Depictions of combat like the ones appearing in this book and in the exhibition at the History Colorado Center were artistic expressions of Cheynne culture and records of Tribal history. The authors of this stunning book worked closely with Cheyenne tribal members to interpret the artwork, creating a fascinating educational resource for those interested in learning more about the aftermath of the Sand Creek Massacre.
Scholars from Chief Dull Knife Tribal College collaborated to produce this book of essays. Ranging from Cheyenne creation stories to accounts of modern Cheyenne customs and essays regarding the college’s founding, this book is one of the best and most authentic introductions to Cheyenne history and culture.
Jeffery Anderson is a scholar who spent decades working with members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe. In this book, Anderson explores the ways Arapaho artwork represents not just beauty and artistry, but also the ways in which women's quilling was (and still remains) critical to the spiritual and cultural health of Arapaho people.
Niwoo3, or Niwot, was a respected Arapaho leader whose people made their home in the Boulder Valley. He was an important figure who spoke many languages, and sought to create peaceful relationships with the United States. His life was tragically cut short at the Sand Creek Massacre, and Margaret Coel’s classic biography reveals the importance of a man whose name remains a prominent symbol of Arapaho presence in Colorado.
Though Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal histories have always told of the Sand Creek Massacre’s location, the exact site remained a mystery to most Coloradans for more than a century. Interest in relocating it picked up speed in the 1990s as Congress prepared to designate The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site. In the late 1990s, a team of Tribal elders, local landowners, historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists came together to find the physical remains of the massacre. Their report details the exhaustive search and reveals in excruciating detail the evidence they found buried in the sandy soil of southeastern Colorado.
History Colorado, The Sand Creek Massacre: The Betrayal that Changed Cheyenne and Arapaho People Forever (2022)
The book form of the groundbreaking History Colorado exhibition of the same name, this book is one of the few narrative tellings of the Sand Creek Massacre’s history from the first-person perspective of Cheyenne and Arapaho people.
George Bent, son of American trader William Bent and Owl Woman, the daughter of a prominent Cheyenne leader, was a survivor of the Sand Creek Massacre. His correspondence with historian George Hyde formed the basis for this book, and represents one of the few written accounts of his Tribe’s history from this period.
Weaving together grippingly tragic narratives of the massacre’s history and explanations of the tensions inherent in creating the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, Kelman’s book is a meditation on both the massacre’s history and the fickle nature of historical memory.
Physician and photographer Thomas Marquis documented the early years of life on the Northern Cheyenne reservation. In photos dating from between 1926 and 1935, Thomas revealed the lives of Cheyenne people working to preserve their way of life. In this book, Tribal President John Woodenlegs and author Margot Liberty have compiled interviews with contemporary Cheynne people to reveal the Tribe’s stories and cultural traditions.
This book by accomplished historian Gary Roberts is perhaps the most comprehensive and approachable modern history of the Sand Creek Massacre. Commissioned by the United Methodist Church to investigate some of its members’ prominent role in the massacre, Roberts looks all the way back to the deep roots of anti-Indian racism to better understand how such a horrific atrocity could have happened in Colorado.
Sara Wiles, The Arapaho Way: Continuity and Change on the Wind River Reservation (2019)
Noted Wyoming photographer Sara Wiles has been working with members of the Northern Arapaho tribe for decades. Her work reveals the lives of modern Arapaho people on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.
Keith Schrum and William Convery, "Saving the Soule-Cramer Letters: How a Government Copyist 'Saved’ Two Lost Accounts of the Sand Creek Massacre" Colorado Heritage, Nov/Dec, 2014
A gripping account of how one of the most important records of the Sand Creek Massacre helped convince congress to create the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site.
An in-depth biography of George Bent, this article is based on first-hand accounts of the Sand Creek Massacre.
David F. Halaas and Andrew E. Masich, “‘You Could Hear the Drums for Miles:’ A Cheyenne Ledgerbook History.” Colorado Heritage, 1997.
Historians David Halaas and Andrew Masich bring readers a condensed version of their book interpreting the designs and history contained in the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers’ Battle of Summit Springs ledger book.
Loretta Fowler, “Arapaho and Cheyenne Perspectives: From the 1851 Treaty to the Sand Creek Massacre.” American Indian Quarterly. University of Nebraska Press, 2015.
A scholarly examination of the long-ignored Tribal history of the Sand Creek Massacre and the impact it left on contemporary Cheyenne and Arapaho people.
The Lost Highways podcast team presents a ground-breaking exposé on the controversy surrounding Native American mascots, and the ways Colorado schools are partnering with Tribes to undo the harm of offensive depictions of Native peoples.