On November 29, 1864, Colonel John M. Chivington and a group of nearly 700 volunteer soldiers carried out the predawn attack on a village at Sand Creek in Kiowa County, Colorado. At the time, the area housed more than 500 Cheyenne and Arapaho Native Americans who believed they were safe under U.S. military protection, and had come there to sign a peace treaty with the government. That wasn’t so. The tumultuous, bloody events that followed changed the course of history.

The soldiers slaughtered more than 150 Native Americans, most of them elderly women and children. While Chivington’s troops returned to a heroes’ welcome in Denver, the Sand Creek Massacre was soon recognized as a national disgrace. The incident has been investigated and condemned by two congressional committees and a military commission.

The Fund’s Role

In 1999, archaeologists from the National Park Service and the Colorado Historical Society, accompanied by Native American descendants, discovered the remains of the massacre site. In 2000, Congress authorized the establishment of the 12,480 acres as the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, but required that the National Park Service acquire sufficient land from willing sellers to preserve, commemorate, and interpret the massacre. The Conservation Fund helped the National Park Service add nearly 1,000 acres to the site by working with private land owners. On April 23, 2007, the site became America’s 391st official park unit.

 “For four generations, my family has ranched on these same windswept plains of Colorado.” 

Learn More

National Park Service site