It's been a long time coming. But then, the Sand Creek Massacre was 150 years ago, and the wounds are still fresh for the descendants of those who were injured or killed by Colonel John Chivington's volunteers on November 29, 1864 — an estimated 200 Arapaho and Cheyenne, mostly women, children and the elderly. And at the end of the 2014 Sand Creek Massacre Healing Run, when Governor John Hickenlooper stood on the steps of the State Capitol Building and apologized to the descendants on behalf of the State of Colorado, many wept.
The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site was established by Congress more than a decade ago, to commemorate the site northeast of Eads where members of the Arapaho and Cheyenne were camped on the banks of Sand Creek, where they thought they were under the protection of the U.S. Army. For the past ten years, the National Park Service has been working with other stakeholders on a General Management Plan for the site; it will host a series of four public meetings this month on that plan.
“We are at the end of a very important planning effort for the national historic site,” says NPS's Alexa Roberts, superintendent of the site. “The general management plan will guide the overall management site for the next twenty years. We are delighted to share this vision for the park’s future with the people of Kiowa County, for the Cheyenne and Arapaho people, and the American public. Sand Creek was a pivotal moment in the history of the United States and the American West. This plan will help us continue to protect the massacre site and bring this important story to our visitors. We look forward to hearing from neighbors and Kiowa County residents, who have been so instrumental in the park’s development over the last decade.”
The plan was developed by the NPS over the past decade with members of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, officials with the State of Colorado and reps from Kiowa County.
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“The plan will enable us to move forward with important improvements and educational and interpretive programs to help our visitors better understand and appreciate the significance of the Sand Creek Massacre and the events that followed," Roberts adds. "Sand Creek is an important window into our history and we want visitors to experience that as fully as possible.”
Here's the schedule for the public meetings:
6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 16
Crow-Luther Cultural Events Center
1304 Main Street, Eads
7 p.m. Thursday, June 18
Center for Advanced Visualization and Experiential Analysis
Metropolitan State University of Denver
890 Auraria Parkway, Suite 420, Denver
7 p.m. Tuesday, June 23
Northern Cheyenne Tribe
Little Wolf Capitol Building
Lame Deer, Montana
7 p.m. Tuesday, June 30
Northern Arapaho Tribe
Wind River Hotel and Casino
102 Highway 789, Riverton, Wyoming
Public comments are being accepted until July 29 during the plan's 45-day public-review period; find out more here.