Commentary

Letters

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Though never proved, Westword stated as fact that four Arapahos murdered the Hungate family. Whites or Indians could have committed the murders. Isn't it suspect that the bodies were hauled thirty miles to Denver to be put on circus-like display? Westword hinted that Chivington's actions brought peace to the plains, when in actuality, all hell broke loose. The Indians banded together and retaliated with great loss of life and money for the whites.

How did peaceful Indians of 1862 and 1863 become hostile in 1864? Blame unscrupulous Indian agents and the political aims of Byers, Chivington and Evans.Though promised in treaties, why was money never paid to the Cheyenne for Denver city land, and why don't the Cheyenne have a reservation in Colorado?

Why is this land, where the most tragic event in U.S. history occurred, being used to fatten cattle?

Patrick Kingston
Denver

Sand Creek lives. U.S. policy in Central America (where tinhorn dictators and their cadre are trained in subversion and terror at Fort Benning, Georgia) perpetuates genocidal policy fomented after civil war. Now Indians in Central America are "communists." Free Leonard Peltier.

Name withheld on request
via the Internet

I've always been interested in local history, so I found Harrison Fletcher's article to be quite interesting and informative. Just one question: Is Duane Smith the local head of the KKK in the Durango area?

Curt Cowles
Aurora

In the April 2, 1998 Rocky Mountain News, Oneida J. Meranto essentially called AIM and Professor Glenn Morris clowns over the fracas at the President's Initiative on Race. I guess being head of Native American Studies at Metropolitan State College makes Meranto an expert. However, a recent book available at the Auraria Library called Colorado's Government: Structure, Politics, Administration and Policy has the city of Julesberg attacked and burned before the Sand Creek Massacre. The book I mention is a cooperative publishing enterprise supported by such as Metro State. Now, for a book like this to be published in cooperation with Metro State without the director of Native American Studies catching it is astounding.

It is essentially like letting a book pass that said that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and carried out the brutal Battan Death March because the Americans had fire-bombed and A-bombed Japanese cities! Since the state legislature is studying making laws to teach about environment in a balanced manner, perhaps they ought to take it before themselves to see that all subjects are taught in a balanced manner.

A joke, of course!
Donald L. Ferry
Denver

Poor old Colonel John Chivington. He's had more arrows shot at him since his death in 1894 than he ever had during his lifetime. If Harrison Fletcher would like to know what one of Chivington's bloodthirsty Colorado Volunteers was like, I would direct him to page 31 of his copy of Harman and Its People, which gives a brief bio of James Motley, at age seventeen a three-year veteran of skirmishes with Indians in the Denver area and a participant in the Indian Battle at Sand Creek, later known as the "Sand Creek Massacre." Motley, a devout Roman Catholic, a close friend of Colorado's first Catholic bishop, Joseph P. Machebeuf, and the first mayor of the town of Harman, was quite proud, and justly so, of his part in Sand Creek.

I'm sorry my great-grandfather, Joachim Binder, is no longer here; he could have told us what fun it was to deal with Plains Indians in the early 1860s: "Feed us and we won't burn your house down." None of us today can appreciate how it was to live out beyond the frontier in territory controlled by savages. The foray at Sand Creek was not a random bit of villainy perpetrated by Governor Evans; it was a response to repeated raids by roving bands of Indians on isolated farms and ranches all through eastern Colorado and even close in to Denver. It was precipitated by the senseless slaughter of the Hungate family at the Running Creek Ranch by Cheyennes on June 11, 1864. As I have pieced the situation together, Joachim Binder, his wife, Maria, and their three daughters left Julesburg shortly before the Sand Creek incident for the relative security of the notch between the Table Mountains and the foothills of the Rockies, then known as Golden City. (Had they stayed at Julesburg, they would have been wiped out in early February 1865, and I wouldn't be here to write this, which makes me, in a way, a legacy of Sand Creek.)

If anyone is interested in the truth about the so-called Sand Creek Massacre, I recommend W.R. Dunne's I Stand by Sand Creek. Mr. Dunne, a military historian, gives a balanced view of relations between settlers and the natives and tells us what a remarkable fellow John Chivington actually was. I would recommend further that we pay no attention to what David Halaas has to say about anything, particularly Colorado history.

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