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Sand Creek Papers, 1861-1864, Mf 0018


Professor Harvey Carter of the Colorado College History Department presented the Sand Creek Papers to CC in 1964. He had received them from Professor R. H. Irrmann of Beloit College in 1962.

Historical Context

The Sand Creek Massacre (November 29, 1864) is one of the most controversial Indian conflicts. This event has been the subject of army and Congressional investigations and inquiries, newspaper debates, the object of much oratory and writing biased in both directions and with bitter conflict between the men who were involved. The Sand Creek Massacre was undertaken by citizen and military troops from the Colorado Territory. Evidence is that Chivington undertook the Indian expedition on his own and it did not reflect official government policy. The era of the Indian trader in Colorado came to an end with the Sand Creek Massacre. The dominance of the Cheyennes and Arapahos to the land east of the mountains was broken. Years of bloody battles with the plains tribes followed.

John M. Chivington in 1862 was appointed colonel of the newly created military district of Colorado. He had fought at La Glorieta Pass and had been in charge of the Union troops during the Apache Canyon fracas.

Black Kettle was a Southern Cheyenne chief and the great peacemaker of the Cheyennes. His dictated letter in this collection proposes peace between his people and the U.S. Army. The chief was a self-described "friend to the whites."



  1. Letter from S. G. Colley, Agent for the Upper Arkansas, Dec. 19, 1861 to William Gilpin, ex-officio superintendent of Indian affairs in and for the territory of Colorado. 5 pages, holograph signed (on outside, "Copy report, Dec. 19th 1861)

      Page 1   Page 2   Page 3   Page 4   Page 5

  2. Letter from William P. Dole, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Oct. 9, 1861 to Samuel G. Colley, Esq, Denver City, Colorado Territory. Concerns Colley's appointment as Agent for the Indians of Arkansas Agency. 2 pages, holograph. (on outside, "letter of appointment for agent")

    Page 1   Page 2

  3. Letter from John Evans, Governor of Colorado Territory & Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Denver Sept. 19, 1864, to Major S. G. Colley, U. S. Indian Agent, Ft. Lyon, Colorado Territory. Informs of arrival of three Indians at Ft. Lyon with a letter from Black Kettle proposing peace and enclosing "copy of the same" 1 page, holograph.

    Page 1

  4. Letter (dictated) from Black Kettle (signed Black Kittle), Cheyenne Village, Aug. 29, 1864, to Major Colley "brought to Ft. Lyon, Sunday, Sept. 4, 1864 by One Eye". Concerns the wish to make peace. (on outside, "Maj. Colley, Indian Agent Fort Lyon") 1 page, holograph in pencil. Transcript of Black Kettle Letter

    Page 1

  5. Letter, pages 2-5 only, holograph. No signature. Probably other page(s) elsewhere. Concerns the necessity of introducing among the tribes the means of agricultural and pastoral pursuits. Indians in starving conditions - made application to officer commanding at the barracks and rations from the commissariat were issued to party of Arapahos. Remove Indians from necessity of theft -- cannot preach peace to a starving savage, etc.

    Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5

  6. Circular, printed 6 pages titled "Chivington Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians". Written after the Sand Creek Massacre, it includes the proclamation, Aug 11, 1864, of John Evans which authorized all citizens to go in pursuit of all hostile Indians, etc.

    Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6

  7. One printed sheet, Denver, June 27, 1864. Colorado Superintendency Indian Affairs. To the Friendly Indians of the Plains, from John Evans, Governor of Colorado and Superintendent of Indian Affairs.

    Page 1

Other resources on the Web:

Other primary and secondary sources in Tutt Library:

  • Scott, Robert, Blood at Sand Creek: the massacre revisited, Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, 1994.

  • White, Lonie J., Hostiles and horse soldiers; Indian battles and campaigns in the West Boulder, Colo., Pruett Pub. Co.,1972

  • Dunn, William R., "I stand by Sand Creek" : a defense of Colonel John M. Chivington and the Third Colorado Calvary Ft. Collins, Colo. : Old Army Press c1985

  • Howbert, Irving, The Indians of the Pike's Peak Region, including an account of the Battle of Sand Creek... New York, The Knickerbocker Press, 1914

  • Cutler, Bruce, The Massacre at Sand Creek; narrative voices Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, c 1995

  • Schultz, Duane P., Month of the Freezing Moon New York, St. Martin's Press, 1990

  • Howbert, Irving, 1846-1934, Papers Correspondence, notes and drafts for articles, lectures and books by Irving Howbert, including material on the early history of the Pike's Peak Region and the Battle of Sand Creek.

  • United States. Army. Courts of Inquiry. Sand Creek Massacre, 1864. Report of the Secretary of War; communicating ... ordered to enquire into the Sand Creek massacre, November, 1864. Washington : Govt. Print Off., 1867

  • Svaldi, David, Sand Creek and the rhetoric of extermination: a case study in Indian-White relations Lanham, MD: University Press of America, c1989

  • Hoig, Stan , The Sand Creek Massacre Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1961

  • The Sand Creek Massacre: a documentary history New York: Sol Lewis, 1973

  • Sand Creek papers; testimonies and statements reflecting facts concerning the killing of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians on November 29, 1864 by the Third Colorado Volunteers Black Forest, Colo., Black Forest Bookman, 1959

  • Mendoza, Patrick M., Song of Sorrow: Massacre at Sand Creek Denver, Colo.: Willow Wind Pub. Co., c1993

  • Nelson, Todd David, The Two Fights at Sand Creek: Indian vs. White and East vs. West Senior Thesis -- Colorado College, 1997

  • Straight, Michael Whitney, A Very Small Remnant Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1976

  • Stiles, T.J., editor, Warriors and Pioneers New York: Berkley Pub. Group, 1996

  • Time-Life Books, The American Indians -- War for the Plains Alexandria, Virginia 1994

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