arapaho indians

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.

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Ten of the many descendants of Tom White Shirt (click through for names and ages). Portraits by Benjamin Rasmussen for The Wall Street Journal.

Tom White Shirt was an Arapaho boy taken from the plunder at Sand Creek, paraded about before the media, and eventually resettled in Oklahoma. Michael Allen recounts the boy’s story while investigating his own ancestor’s role in the 1864 Sand Creek massacre.

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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.

(Smithsonian Institute)

Americans must not forget the shameful legacy of Sand Creek 

Pearl Harbor. 9/11. Memorial Day. 

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. 

We can’t forget any longer

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1 | A High Country Lodge

2 | Park Scene Quintessential 

3 | Iceberg Lake from Trail Ridge Road

4 | Sheer Peaks Rise above Dream Lake 

1820

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.

1843

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.”

1859

Joel Estes, the first white settler, entered the park and in 1860 built the first cabin.

1865

Charles F. Estes, first white child born in the park.

1868

First ascent of Longs Peak. The climb was made by William N. Byers, Maj. J.W. Powell, and five other men.

1868

Rocky Mountain Jim, adventurer and frontiersman, settled in area.

1869

Earl of Dunraven, famous English sportsman, first visited this area.

1871

The Hayden Geographical Survey, under Dr. E.V. Hayden, worked in this region.

1874

First stage established between Longmont and Estes Park.

1874

Albert Bierstadt, famous artist, first visited the region.

1876

First wedding in the park: Anna Ferguson and Richard Hubbell.

1878

First hotel built by Earl of Dunraven.

1881

First public school established and held in Elkhorn Lodge.

1881

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.

1900

Bear Lake fire.

1904

Big Thompson Canyon road completed.

1907

Automobile stage line established between Estes Park and Loveland.

1909

Automobile stage line established between Estes Park and Lyons.

1912

Fall River road begun. Completed in 1920.

1915

Rocky Mountain National Park Act approved January 26.

1927

Bear Lake road completed.

1929

State of Colorado ceded exclusive jurisdiction to Federal Government.

1930

Never Summer Range area added to the park.

1932

Trail Ridge road opened.