Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Ludlow Massacre centennial will be commemorated by state commission

The Sand Creek Massacre isn't the only grim chapter in Colorado history that will mark a major anniversary in 2014. Next year is also the hundredth anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre, the darkest moment in the Great Coalfield War. On April 20, 1914, a skirmish broke out between the Colorado National Guard and striking coal miners -- who'd been booted from their company-owned homes by Colorado Fuel & Iron Company and were living in the Ludlow Tent Colony with their families.

The day ended with the deaths of more than twenty people, including miners, their wives and children, and one member of the Guard.

Tomorrow, Governor John Hickenlooper will issue an executive order to create the Ludlow Centennial Commemoration Commission.

The commission comprises reps of both the Colorado National Guard and the United Mine Workers of America, as well as historians and scholars, including driving force Jonathan Hugo Rees of Colorado State University-Pueblo, state historian William Convery and Dean Saitta of the University of Denver, who's co-director of the Colorado Coal Field War Archaeological Project, which has excavated sites connected with the strike of 1913-14, among them the Ludlow Tent Colony (a National Historical Landmark). Saitta also serves on the DU committee that's been charged with studying founder John Evans and his ties to the Sand Creek Massacre.

DU will also celebrate its 150th anniversary next year; John Evans, then the territorial governor, founded what was originally known as the Colorado Seminary with Colonel John Chivington, a Methodist minister who subsequently led 700 troops on a raid of a peaceful camp on the banks of Sand Creek on November 29, 1964. Over 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho, most of them women, children and elderly men, were killed.

How the Sand Creek Massacre should be remembered is still a matter of heated debate.

Meanwhile, members of the Ludlow commission will be pulling together a series of lectures, exhibits and other activities to commemorate that tragedy. Here's the executive order establishing the commission:

Ludlow Centennial Commemoration Commission

From the "Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "A century and a half later, the wounds of Sand Creek are still fresh."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun