History

Study Notes

Sand Creek Massacre 1864

Level:
GCSE
Board:
Edexcel

The Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes came into conflict with the US government in 1864. This was sparked by the discovery of gold in the Colorado Territory in 1858. It caused lots of prospectors to trespass Cheyenne and Arapaho land. The prospectors demanded the government do something about the hostile Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes to make their journey safer.

The Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes came into conflict with the US government in 1864. This was sparked by the discovery of gold in the Colorado Territory in 1858. It caused lots of prospectors to trespass Cheyenne and Arapaho land. The prospectors demanded the government do something about the hostile Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes to make their journey safer.

 

In 1861 a new treaty was signed called the Treaty of Fort Wise. It stipulated that the Cheyenne and Arapaho would move to a reservation in east Colorado. However, some of the Cheyenne and Arapaho remained on their old lands. Conflict between the remaining Indians and the gold prospectors continued for three years.

 

To end this conflict, a chief called Black Kettle attempted to reach an agreement with the US government. He temporarily set up camp at Sand Creek. On the 29 November 1864, the Territory’s governor, John Evans, sent in a force of 1,000 men to ‘kill and destroy’ hostile Plains Indians. A civil war hero called Colonel Chivington led them. They murdered over 150 men, women, children and babies. They raped the women and mutilated the bodies of those they had killed. Body parts of the victims were later displayed in local saloons as trophies. During this massacre, Black Kettle had put up white and American flags to show that they had surrendered.

 

The US government was preoccupied with the civil war and decided they needed to pacify the tribes after the massacre. They promised to move them to a large reservation and pay compensation to the survivors. However, once the war was over the US ignored the deal. The Cheyenne and Arapaho were forced to move to a tiny reservation and no compensation was paid to the survivors. News spread to neighbouring tribes about the events of Sand Creek Massacre, destroying any remaining trust the Plains Indians had towards the US government. 

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