Sand Creek

The Sand Creek massacre

Today marks the anniversary of the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, in which a 700-man contingent of Colorado militia under the command of John Chivington slaughtered over 150 Arapaho and Cheyenne, mostly women and children, at the Sand Creek settlement in eastern Colorado near the Arkansas River.

Believing the US soldiers would not fire upon anyone standing under the Stars and Stripes, Cheyenne leader Black Kettle mounted the flag above his tipi in the middle of the village, but his efforts were in vain.

The American military displayed trophies of the “battle”, including body parts, in Denver for months afterwards. If you get the chance to read Dee Brown’s landmark book, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, it will open your eyes to the US government’s overt and covert campaigns against the indigenous people of North America in the 19th century – it’s a scathing indictment of the US politicians, soldiers, and citizens who colonised the American West.

The following are the words of a song I wrote commemorating the tragedy. It is written from Black Kettle’s perspective during the night before the atrocities:

In the year of 1864
In the moon of popping trees
On the banks of the Arkansas
When the water starts to freeze

The stars have gone out one by one
The moon’s turned pale and weak
The spirits will not gaze upon
My children at Sand Creek

The Stars and Stripes are flying high
Above me as I sleep
In a dream I hear my children cry
Why is it that they weep?

The sky’s been dark since war began
Please let us live in peace
I reach out for the white chief’s hand
The killing now must cease

Is that death’s wing that flashes past
All draped in silver light?
And do I hear a trumpet blast
For souls to start their flight?

The stars have gone out one by one
The moon’s turned pale and weak
The spirits will not gaze upon
My children at Sand Creek

Tonight the lights are going out
For the children at Sand Creek

An estimated 300 million indigenous people continue to experience institutional violence, poverty, disease, and marginalisation today. They include the Maori people of New Zealand, the Mapuche communities in Chile, the Maya of Mexico and Central America, the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic, and descendants of the Incas and Aymaras in South America. Assimilation or integration into dominant “civilised” societies has not worked for many aboriginal peoples. Self-determination and self-governance are key human rights issues for them. It cannot be beyond the wit of mankind to devise a sensitive and sensible way of allowing indigenous people the means to manage what’s left of their own land and resources, along with their own education, health, employment and judicial systems.

About thespeedofdark

David Winship has written an unauthorised autobiography and several critically disdained literary tomes. His work is frequently compared with Steinbeck, Orwell and Hemingway, but unfortunately Mike Steinbeck, Daisy Orwell and Howard Hemingway were all terrible writers. He has been totally overlooked for the most prestigious literary awards worldwide, which is a shame as most of the words are spelled correctly. In fact, his books contain material that ranks with the finest literary works in history: all the right letters are there, just not necessarily in the right order.

Dave’s blog (The Speed Of Dark Blog) is part of his crusade for truth and justice and universal entitlement to free real ale. It may well be that his whole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.

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Category(s): Dark Mutterings
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