Chief Black Kettle was around the age of 60 when he escaped the massacre on Sand Creek in 1864. He quickly returned in search of his wife, her name was Medicine Woman Later. He found her severely wounded, she had been shot nine times. But she survived. They and other survivors fled to seek safety in other Cheyenne camps.
The next year, Black Kettle met with government officials again to demand a territory where the Cheyenne and Arapaho could live in peace. The 1865 Little Arkansas Treaty established a land reserve along the Arkansas River and promised reparations for the loss of livestock, horses, and the 200 lives that were taken as a result of the Sand Creek Massacre. However, reparations were never implemented and emigrant invasion heightened in the wake of Pike’s Peak gold rush.
Black Kettle was known to say, “All we ask is that we have peace with the whites.” In efforts to maintain friendship, he signed the 1867 Medicine Lodge Treaty, which greatly reduced the lands set aside just two years before and pushed the Cheyenne and Arapaho into Oklahoma – otherwise known as “Indian Territory,” the dumping ground for many displaced and forcibly removed Tribes during this time. The 1867 treaty, however, was never ratified, which means our land was usurped, STOLEN.
One year later, Black Kettle and his band set up camp along the Washita River near what is known today as Cheyenne, Oklahoma – well within the boundaries noted in the Medicine Lodge Treaty. There they were victim to yet another surprise attack. This time the slaughter was led by the 7th Cavalry. “Without bothering to identify the village, George Armstrong Custer led an early morning attack on a band of peaceful Cheyenne.”
On this day, November 27, 1868, Black Kettle, Medicine Woman Later, and 100 more Cheyennes died.
They survived the Sand Creek Massacre only to be killed four years later. Let me say again, “We will fight to share this history and truth so that no one will ever forget how America was born. This was our land and they killed us for it.”
As a descendant of the Sand Creek Massacre, I write this post in memory of Chief Black Kettle, on the anniversary of his death, in honor of his push for peace. In honor of his desire to do the right thing. In honor of his will to live. In honor of his fight to protect our homelands.
SandCreekMassacreSpiritualHealingRun ends in Denver, but Black Kettle’s story, our story, my story lives on. Honor those who came before you by, at least, acknowledging their existence.
Please learn the truth and know that wherever you live in this country, Indigenous people lived there first. Whatever city you call home was first populated by Tribes. In essence, this entire country was built on an Indian burial ground. Pay your respects.