On June 25, 1876, General George Custer and a heavily armed cavalry regiment attacked a camp of Lakota, Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians on the banks of the Little Bighorn River in what is now Montana. Custer’s regiment was part of the forces clearing the region of indigenous peoples so white settlers could mine gold in the Black Hills. That day Custer met a crushing defeat at the hands of the assembled tribes, under the leadership of Crazy Horse and Gall. Custer and his men were entirely wiped out in one of the greatest victories for Indian peoples during the last five hundred years of genocide in the Americas.
Chief Wolf Robe, of the Cheyenne people, 1890, Oklahoma. [He was the Cheyenne chief in the late 1870s, when he was forced to leave the open plains to relocate his tribe to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian Reservation.]
An Arapaho warrior rescues another warrior while under fire from a group of American soldiers. The Arapaho were one of the most dogged groups in their resistance to American expansion, stemming from the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, the first major clash of arms between the two, which saw Colorado militia slaughter a village of Arapaho and Cheyenne, mostly women and children.
The Arapaho would fight a series of conflicts over the next decades, including participation in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
These are just a handful of days when Americans pause to remember those lost during wartime or in national tragedies. On these days, politicians deliver speeches calling for patriotism and unity so that the public “never forgets” these painful moments.
But the current list of days is woefully incomplete.
This past weekend marked the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek massacre, where volunteer U.S. soldiers killed hundreds of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians living peacefully in the Colorado territory. Thousands of Native Americans gathered in Colorado and across the country to pay homage and remember those who were murdered.
Maj. Stephen H. Long, commanding an exploring party sent out by President Madison in 1819, first sighted Longs Peak. Park area frequented by Arapaho and Ute Indians.
Rufus B. Sage, another explorer, visited the area and later published earliest known description in “Rocky Mountain Life, or Startling Scenes and Perilous Adventures in the Far West During an Expedition of Three Years.”
Joel Estes, the first white settler, entered the park and in 1860 built the first cabin.
Charles F. Estes, first white child born in the park.
First ascent of Longs Peak. The climb was made by William N. Byers, Maj. J.W. Powell, and five other men.
Rocky Mountain Jim, adventurer and frontiersman, settled in area.
Earl of Dunraven, famous English sportsman, first visited this area.
The Hayden Geographical Survey, under Dr. E.V. Hayden, worked in this region.
First stage established between Longmont and Estes Park.
Albert Bierstadt, famous artist, first visited the region.
First wedding in the park: Anna Ferguson and Richard Hubbell.
First hotel built by Earl of Dunraven.
First public school established and held in Elkhorn Lodge.
The Denver, Utah & Pacific Railroad built to Lyons and projected to Pacific Ocean through Fall River and Milner Passes by Milner, chief engineer for the company.
Bear Lake fire.
Big Thompson Canyon road completed.
Automobile stage line established between Estes Park and Loveland.
Automobile stage line established between Estes Park and Lyons.
Fall River road begun. Completed in 1920.
Rocky Mountain National Park Act approved January 26.
Bear Lake road completed.
State of Colorado ceded exclusive jurisdiction to Federal Government.