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 Indian Massacre Proclamation Rescinded

 Indian Massacre Proclamation Rescinded
August 19
15:04 2021

 Indian Massacre Proclamation Rescinded

By John Christian Hopkins

Chivington (NPS)

Attention, Native Americans! It has gotten a little safer for you to visit Colorado.

You can thank Colorado Gov. Jared Polis for this.

Polis rescinded a proclamation that has been on the books since the 19th century. The 1864 proclamation urged residents of Colorado Territory to kill Native Americans and take their property!

Polis hopes his action can begin to make amends for “sins of the past.” It’s a big step in mending Colorado’s historic rocky relationship with its tribes.

The 1864 order by Colorado’s second territorial governor, John Evans, was never lawful, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t followed.


Using Evans’ order as justification Col. John Chivington, an ordained minister, gathered a force of volunteers and led them in an attack on a peaceful Cheyenne village.

In November of 1864 Chivington’s men attacked Chief Black Kettle’s village at Sand Creek. The dawn attack killed more than 200 of the Cheyenne and Arapaho – mostly women, children and the elderly.

At first Chivington was regarded as a hero, but as word spread of the atrocities, he and his men committed he was soon disparaged. He eventually left the Colorado Territory under a cloud of shame.

Evans’ proclamation was never lawful because it established treaty rights and federal Indian law, Polis said at the signing of his executive order on August 17. 

“It also directly contradicted the Colorado Constitution, the United States Constitution and Colorado criminal codes at the time,” the Governor said.

Polis stood alongside citizens of the Southern Ute, Ute Mountain, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, many dressed in traditional regalia. Some held signs reading “Recognize Indigenous knowledge, people, land” and “Decolonize to survive.”

Ernest House Jr., who served as executive director of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs under former Gov. John Hickenlooper, said Polis’ order is important to the state’s government-to-government relations with tribes, the acknowledgment of history, and a movement toward reconciliation.

“I think there’s oftentimes the general community think of American Indians as the vanishing race, the vanishing people. And I think it starts with things like this,” said House, a citizen of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

Evans governed the territory of Colorado during three years of the Civil War, from 1862 to 1865. He resigned after the Sand Creek massacre. 

Chivington led the Nov. 29, 1864, slaughter. He and his soldiers then headed to Denver, where they displayed some of the victims’ remains.

 One of Evans’ orders deemed Native Americans, “enemies of the state,” and the second called for Colorado citizens to kill and steal from them.

 Indian Massacre Proclamation Rescinded - overview

Summary:  Indian Massacre Proclamation Rescinded


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