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Before dawn, the cavalry stormed the 51 lodges, killing men, women, and children. Hard Backside Custer reported over 100 killed, although only 11 of these were warriors. This was Custer's first major engagement with the Indians.

    According to Bent, Black Kettle and his wife, Medicine Woman, both rushed out of the lodge at the first booming of the guns. Black Kettle mounted a horse and helped his wife up behind him and started to cross the Washita River, but both the chief and his wife fell at the river bank riddled with bullets; the horse was also killed at the same time.

     Red Shin tells me that the soldiers rode right over Black Kettle and his wife and their horse as they lay dead on the ground, and that their bodies were all splashed with mud by the charging soldiers...

     Following Sheridan's plan to cripple resistance, Hard Backside ordered the slaughter of the Indian pony and mule herd estimated at near 900 animals.

     The lodges of Black Kettle's people, with all their winter supply of food and clothing, were torched. The loss of winter supplies, and the loss of heart through sheer misery, convinced many bands to accept reservation life.


       A list of Cheyenne family heads present at the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864 was printed in the September 1982 issue of the Northern Cheyenne Tribal News. Names were given in English and Cheyenne. The original Cheyenne was apparently written by a government agent and is very difficult to decipher. Here is an attempt to figure out what the Cheyenne names were.
There are many uncertainties:
  • White Hat
  • Bear Skin
  • Wounded Bear
  • Bear Feathers
  • Cross Necklace vo'otane ?
  • Two Lances Ne Xomoono ?
  • Black Wolf
  • White Antelope V'kaa'e Ohv'komaestse
  • One Eye
  • Tall Bear
  • Black Kettle Mo'(k?)htvetoo'o
  • Feather Head
  • Tall Wolf
  • Heap of Crows
  • Spotted Corn
  • Man Standing in the Water
  • Big Head
  • Red Arm
  • Sitting Bear
  • The Kiowa
  • Big Shell
  • Wolf Mule
  • The Man Hehme/Hetane?
  • Full Bull O'otm ?
  • The Stick Khamaxe
  • Wolf That Hears H'neohnstoohe (Howling Wolf?)
  • Pointed Tomahawk Ekseto ?
  • One Leg
  • Bull That Hears ? nstoohe
  • Seven Bulls ? nsohto ?
  • Big Owl Mstaa'a ?
  • Bear Shield
  • Black Antelope V'kaa'e Ohmo'(k?)htvaestse
  • Bull Neck
  • Snake e'enovtse
  • Lame Man Nhn'he ?
  • Wolf Horn vevstse ?
  • Bear Tongue Nhkhe-vtanove ?
  • Wolf Tongue Ho'nhe-vtanove
  • Leg Calf
  • Wolf That Speaks
  • Little Bear Nhkxhahketa ?
  • Bird That Flies
  • Spotted Horns ? vveto ?
  • Found Sun Ee'hm'hne ?
  • Empty Belly
  • Red Sheath
  • The Squirrel
  • The Road
  • Bull Pup
  • The Man That Peeps Over the Hill
  • Heap of Cows
  • Little Wolf H'neoxhahketa ?
  • Shawnee Savano
  • Wolf Road
  • Scabby Man Oevemana
  • Arapahoe Hetanevo'e
  • Bushy Hair
  • Wolf Grey
  • Standing Polecat
  • Black Horse
  • Small Belly
  • Loser in the Race
  • Four Bears
  • Old Bear Nhkohe ??
  • Blue Crane
  • Polecat
  • Point of Rocks
  • White Calf (related to Vstaa'e ?)
  • Black Kettles Brother
  • Whirl Wind
  • Spirit Walking
  • Walking Crane (related to Vstaso ?)
  • Forked Stick
  • Cross
  • Iron Ma'aeta
  • Big Child
  • Vermillion Ma'etomo (e?)
  • One that Kills
  • Big Louse
  • Man on Top of the Hill
  • Following Turtle Ma'eno ??
  • White Beaver
  • Wooden Leg Khamxhahthe ?
  • Big Rib ? he'pe
  • Sand Hill
  • Mad Bull
  • Bird Tail Voto ?
  • Shoving Bear
  • Stuffed Gut Hesthtotse ?
  • Little Beaver Hma'e
  • Yellow Wolf
  • Red Bird Ma'eve'se
  • White Man V'ho'e
  • Male Cross
  • Yellow Woman Heva'e ??
  • Male Cherry Hetanmene ??
  • Bear Above He'ama Nhkohe ?
  • Smooth Face ?? nhe
  • Bear Tent Nhkohe ??
  • Blacktail Eagle
  • Coffee Kape ? (English borrowing)
  • Cut Nose
  • Hog
  • Wounded Bear Nhkohe ??
  • Found Dog Hotamom'hne ?
  • Foot Track
  • Bobtail Wolf
  • The Elk Mo'ehe ?
  • Spanish Woman
  • Blue Horse Ot'tavahe ?

Black Kettle (Motavato), Southern Cheyenne
"We want to take good tidings home to our people, that they may sleep
in peace I want you to give all the 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. "

Colonel John Chivington, United States Army
"The Cheyennes will have to be soundly whipped before they will be quiet. If any of them are caught in your vicinity kill them, as that is the only way."

George Bent, Southern Cheyenne
"From down the creek a large body of troops was advancing at a rapid trot, some to the east of the camps, and others on the opposite side of the creek, to the west...I looked toward the chief's lodge and saw Black Kettle had a large American flag tied to the end of a long lodgepole and was standing in front of his lodge holding the pole...I heard him call to the people not to be afraid, that the soldiers would not hurt them; then the troops opened fire...
That night will never be forgotten as long as any of us who went through it are alive...Many who had lost wives, husbands and children, or friends, went back down the creek and crept over the battleground among the naked and mutilated bodies of the dead. Few were found alive, for the soldiers had done their work thoroughly."

Major Scott Anthony, United States Army
"There was one little child, probably three years old, just big enough to walk through the sand...I saw one man get off his horse...and draw up his rifle and fire, he missed the child. Another man came up and said, "Let me try the son of a bitch; I can hit him"...but he missed him. A third man came up and made a similar remark, and fired, and the little fellow dropped."

First Lieutenant James Connor, United States Army
"I did not see a body of a man, woman, child but was scalped; and in many instances their bodies were mutilated in the most horrible manner, men, women, and children-privates cut out, etc. I heard one man say that he had cut a woman's private parts out and had them for exhibition on a stick; I heard another man say that he had cut the fingers off an Indian to get the rings on the hand...I also heard of numerous instances in which men had cut out the private parts of females, and stretched them over the saddle bows, and wore them over their hats, while riding in the ranks. "

Black Kettle (Motavato), Southern Cheyenne

"I once thought that I was the only man that persevered to be the friend of the white man, but since they have come and cleaned out our lodges, horses, and everything else, it is hard for me to believe white men any more. "

Southern Cheyenne Council
But what do we want to live for? The white man has taken our country, killed all of our game; was not satisfied with that, but killed our wives and children.

Joint Special Committee of United States Congress
"The hatred of the whites to the Indians would seem to have been inflamed and excited to the utmost...Governor [Evans] in a proclamation calls upon all "either individually or in such parties as they may organize, to kill and destroy as enemies of the country, wherever they may be found, all such hostile Indians."...What Indians he would ever term friendly it is impossible to tell."

Joint Special Committee of United States Congress
"As to Colonel Chivington, your committee can hardly find fitting terms to describe his conduct...he deliberately planned and executed a foul and dastardly massacre...Having full knowledge of their friendly character, having himself been instrumental to some extent in placing them in their position of fancied security, he took advantage of their inapprehension... the truth is that he surprised and murdered, in cold blood, the unsuspecting men, women, and children on Sand Creek...and then returned to Denver and boasted of the brave deeds he and the men under his command had performed. "

NOTE: In April 1996, the United Methodist Church, at its national convention in Denver, formally apologized to the Arapaho and Cheyenne Indian tribes for the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864.

    The discovery of gold in 1858 and 1859 on the South Platte River lead to a massive influx of white fortune seekers into the buffalo hunting grounds of the plains tribes.

     The Kansas to Colorado trail running directly through Cheyenne and Arapaho territory.

     The Indians refused to relocate to reservations in 1861, but Cheyenne chiefs such as Black Kettle and White Antelope continued to work for peace. Traveling to Washington that year to put their case to President Lincoln, who gave Black Kettle a large American flag and White Antelope a peace medal.

     As tensions rose in 1864 Black Kettle and other Cheyenne and Arapaho chiefs traveled to Denver to meet the Governor (John Evans) and military commander (Colonel John Chivington) of Colorado.

     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 the others, having made their peace with Evans and Chivington traveled south to set up camp on Sand Creek under the promised protection of Fort Lyon. While those who remained opposed to the agreement headed North to join the Sioux.

     Chivington, however, had other ideas believing "the Cheyenne will have to be soundly whipped before they will be quiet." Accordingly on the dawn of the 29th November 1864, Chivington's Colorado volunteers and regular troops from Fort Lyon, under orders to take no prisoners, descended on Sand Creek.

     Black Kettle, believing there was no danger, ran up President Lincoln's American flag and a white flag of truce on a large lodge pole in front of his tipi to reassure his people. The troops responded by opening fire.

     The main body of Indians fled towards the dry creek bed frantically digging pits in its sandy banks for protection. Those warriors who had been able to grab their weapons engaged in a desperate rear-guard action, killing 8 and wounding 38 of their attackers. White Antelope died in front of his tipi wearing Lincoln's peace medal, his arms folded, singing his death song, "nothing live long, except the earth and the mountains."

     Black Kettle and his wife followed the others up the stream bed, his wife being shot in the back and left for dead. The troops kept up their indiscriminate assault for most of the day and many atrocities were committed. One Lieutenant killing and scalping 3 women and 5 children who had surrendered and were screaming for mercy.

     Finally breaking off their attack they returned to the camp killing all the wounded they could find before mutilating and scalping the dead, including pregnant women, children and babies. They then plundered the tipi's and divided up the Indians horse herd before leaving.

     More than a 150 Indians, including 8 leading chiefs, had been slain (Some sources put the figure as high as 500). The vast majority of victims were however women and children. Black Kettle's wife although shot 9 times somehow managed to survived the attack.

      The survivors, over half of whom were wounded, sought refuge in the camp of the Cheyenne Dog Warriors (who had remained opposed to the 'peace' treaty) at Smokey Hill River.

     The Colorado volunteers returned to Denver, exhibiting their scalps, to receive a hero's welcome.

A congressional investigation subsequently determined the crime to be a "sedulously and carefully planed massacre", but no one was ever brought to justice for it.

Although both Chivington and Evans failed to realize their political ambitions in Colorado.

[ Sand Creek Massacre Pg 2 ] Sand Creek Massacre Pg 3 ] Sand Creek Massacre Pg 4 ] Sand Creek Massacre Pg 5 ] Sand Creek Massacre Pg 6 ]

JD Challenger

JD Challenger

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Created January 16, 2006