Sand Creek Massacre: Movies, Lectures and Exhibits Commemorate 150th Anniversary

Cannon display from History Colorado's now-closed "Collision" exhibit.
Cannon display from History Colorado's now-closed "Collision" exhibit.

On December 3, after five days and 170 miles, the fifteenth annual Sand Creek Massacre Healing Run will end with a procession to the steps of the State Capitol, where descendants of Arapaho and Cheyenne tribe members killed at Sand Creek will join with more tribal representatives, historians, politicians and other supporters in commemorating the 150th anniversary of that dark chapter in Colorado history.

From there, the tribal members will head to History Colorado -- where they'll find a ceremonial feast, but not the temporary installation on Sand Creek promised by History Colorado in the current edition of its magazine.

See also: Sand Creek Massacre -- John Evans Founded DU, But Left a Legacy of Shame

That's because over the past few weeks, both the tribal representatives and History Colorado recognized that there was not enough time to pull together an installation that would satisfy everyone. "We're going to hold at this point," says History Colorado spokeswoman Deborah Radman.

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Wise move. After all, Collision: The Sand Creek Massacre 1860s-Today was one of the inaugural exhibits when the new History Colorado Center opened in April 2012 -- even though tribal representatives had already shared their concerns over both the style and substance of the display, as well as History Colorado's lack of any "meaningful consultation" with the tribes. In fact, the tribes had requested that Collision not open at all until such consultations could take place. Instead, it wasn't until May 2013 that History Colorado finally closed Collision as it began a series of meetings with tribal representatives that ultimately ended in a Memorandum of Agreement, which included a provision that the tribes would be consulted on any future exhibits involving Sand Creek.

You cannot hurry healing -- but you can acknowledge pain.

History Colorado Center.
History Colorado Center.

So rather than push the exhibit along and risk another Collision-like collision, History Colorado's public presentation during the Sand Creek sesquicentennial will be limited to a screening of The Sand Creek Massacre and the Civil War, a National Park Service documentary produced by Denver-based Post Modern Company that will show at 2 p.m. Saturday, November 29, in the History Colorado Center Auditorium; the screening will be followed by a Q&A with executive producer David Emrich.

And there are many, many more activities connected with this commemoration -- which shows that cultural collisions are not inevitable. You can find information on the Sand Creek Massacre Commemoration and the Healing Run itself on sandcreekmassacre150.com, the official site of the state's Sand Creek Massacre Commemoration Commission, which will be meeting at 2:30 p.m. today at the Fort (all meetings are public).

Continue for some of the Sand Creek Massacre-related events this month.   Chief Niwot: Legend & Legacy, the award-winning exhibit that made its debut at the Boulder History Museum two years ago, is back to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre, with new content. The show will be up through December 31 at 1206 Euclid Avenue in Boulder; for hours and admission fees, call 303-449-3464.

Descendants of Sand Creek, an exhibit of works by Cheyenne and Arapaho artists Brent Learned, George Levi, Nathan Hart, BJ Stepp and Merlin Little Thunder at the Native American Trading Company, 213 West 13th Avenue, runs now through December 24. Find more information at 303-534-0771 or nativeamericantradingco.com.

Rocks Karma Arrows 1, part of a contemporary multimedia work exploring Boulder history through the lens of race and socioeconomic inequality and focusing on the Sand Creek Massacre, will screen at 1 p.m. Saturday, November 15, at the Canyon Theater, Boulder Public Library, 1001 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder. Following the performance, a panel including Ray Ramirez of the Native American Rights Fund; Tom Thomas, historian and project manager of the Sand Creek Massacre National History Site; Ava Hamilton, Arapaho and documentary filmmaker; and Elicia Goodsoldier, Dine'/Spirit Lake Dakota and historical trauma specialist, will discuss the history of Sand Creek. Rocks Karma Arrows II, which explores Boulder history in relation to the KKK, Japanese internment camps and other controversial eras, will screen at 1 p.m. Saturday, November 22, at the Canyon Theater. Both programs are free and presented by Motus Theater and the Boulder Public Library; find more information at motustheater.org.

Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell.
Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

"Congress Meets Sand Creek: U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell's Fight for a National Historic Site," the second annual Chief Niwot Forum, will be presented at 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 19, at the Museum of Boulder, 2205 Broadway in Boulder. A Northern Cheyenne, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell sponsored the legislation that established the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Study Site. He'll be joined by former Congressman David Skaggs to discuss the creation of that site and its role in memorializing the tragedy at Sand Creek. The event is sponsored by the Boulder History Museum and the Native American Rights Fund; tickets are $20, or $10 for museum members. Find more information at boulderhistory.org.

Watch sandcreekmassacre150.com for updates.

Send tips to patricia.calhoun@westword.com.

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History Colorado Center
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The Fort Restaurant

19192 Highway 8
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303-697-4771

www.thefort.com


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