Remembering U.S. Soldiers who Refused to Kill Native Americans at Sand Creek

Hits: 887

A scholar shares the true story of two men who stood up and spoke out against the murder of American Indians, and how they are celebrated today. Native American tribal members pay their respects at the headstone of Union Officer, Capt. Silas Soule, at the Riverside Cemetery Dec. 03, 2014 in honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre.

Every Thanksgiving weekend for the past 17 years, Arapaho and Cheyenne youth lead a 180-mile relay from the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site to Denver.

The annual Sand Creek Massacre Spiritual Healing Run opens at the site of the Sand Creek Massacre near Eads, Colorado, with a sunrise ceremony honoring some 200 Arapaho and Cheyenne people who lost their lives in the infamous massacre. This brutal assault was carried out by Colonel John Chivington on Nov. 29, 1864.

While the Sand Creek massacre has been the subject of numerous books, much less attention has been given to two heroes of this horrific event: U.S. soldiers Captain Silas Soule and Lt. Joseph Cramer.

These were men who rejected the violence and genocide inherent in the “conquest of the West.” They did so by personally refusing to take part in the murder of peaceful people, while ordering the men under their command to stand down. Their example breaks the conventional frontier narrative that has come to define the clash between Colonial settlers and Native peoples as one of civilization versus savagery.

This is a theme I’ve previously addressed as a scholar in the fields of American Indian studies and Colonial history, both in my book on the Indian captivity narrative genre, “Buried in Shades of Night,” and more recently in writings on Sand Creek.

The Letters of Soule and Cramer

Soule’s noble act of compassion at Sand Creek is humbly conveyed in a letter to his mother included in the Denver Public Library Western History Collections: “I was present at a Massacre of three hundred Indians mostly women and children… It was a horrable scene and I would not let my Company fire.”

Refusing to participate, Soule and the men of Company D of the First Colorado, along with Cramer of Company K, bore witness to the incomprehensible. Chivington’s attack soon descended into a frenzy of killing and mutilation, with soldiers taking scalps and other grisly trophies from the bodies of the dead. Soule was a devoted abolitionist and one dedicated to the rights of all people. He stayed true to his convictions in the face of insults and even a threat of hanging from Chivington the night before at Fort Lyon.

In the following weeks, Soule and Cramer wrote letters to Major Edwin “Ned” Wyncoop, the previous commander at Fort Lyon who had dealt fairly with the Cheyenne and Arapaho. Both harshly condemned the massacre and the soldiers who carried it out. Soule’s letter details a meeting among officers on the eve of the attack in which he fervently condemned Chivington’s plans asserting “that any man who would take part in the murders, knowing the circumstances as we did, was a low lived cowardly son of a bitch.”

Describing the attack to Wynkoop, Soule wrote, “I refused to fire and swore that none but a coward would.” His letter goes on to describe the soldiers as “a perfect mob.”

This account is verified by Cramer’s letter. Detailing his own objections to Chivington, whom he describes as coming “like a thief in the dark,” Cramer had stated that he “thought it murder to jump them friendly Indians.” To this charge, Chivington had replied, “Damn any man or men who are in sympathy with them.”

In Soule’s account, he writes, “I tell you Ned it was hard to see little children on their knees have their brains beat out by men professing to be civilized.”

While few Americans – especially those living outside of Colorado – may know their names, Soule and Cramer are honored and revered by the ancestors of the people they tried to save. According to David F. Halaas, former Colorado state historian and current historical consultant to the Northern Cheyenne, without their courage in disobeying Chivington’s orders and keeping their men from the massacre, “the descendants probably wouldn’t be around today,” and there would be no one to tell the stories.

The horrific descriptions of Soule and Cramer prompted several official inquiries into the atrocity. Both men also testified before an Army commission in Colorado as witnesses. While the officers and soldiers responsible escaped punishment, their testimony brought widespread condemnation upon Chivington, who defended the act until his death.

These investigations also ended the political career of the Colorado territorial governor, John Evans, who had issued two proclamations calling for violence against Native people of the plains, and for organizing the 3rd Colorado Cavalry Regiment in which Chivington was placed in command.

Sites of Reverence and Healing

The Cheyenne and Arapaho will return to Denver this year to honor their ancestors and remember Soule’s and Cramer’s conscience and humanity. This will be done through an offering of prayers and blessings, along with the performance of honor songs.

On the third and final day of the healing run, they will gather for a sunrise ceremony at Soule’s flower-adorned grave at Denver’s Riverside Cemetery. The participants will then continue on to 15th and Lawrence Street in downtown Denver. There, a plaque is mounted on the side of an office building at the place where Soule was murdered on April 23, 1865. His death, for which no one was ever brought to justice, occurred only two months after he testified against Chivington before the Army commission.

Over the last few decades, Soule’s grave and place of death have been transformed into sacred sites of remembrance within a violent and traumatic frontier past.

The catastrophe of the Sand Creek Massacre is recognized by historians as among the most infamous events in the annals of the American West. Even now, it is the only massacre of Native people recognized as such by the U.S. government, with the land itself preserved as a national historic site for learning and reflection.

In Cheyenne and Arapaho stories, this event remains an ever-present trauma and persists as part of their cultural memory. In addition, it encapsulates the stark moment of betrayal against their ancestors and the theft of their lands.

The story of Soule’s and Cramer’s actions and their courage to say “no” to the killing of peaceful people at Sand Creek is an important chapter of U.S. history. I maintain that it is people like Soule and Cramer who truly deserve to be remembered through monuments and memorials, and can be a source for a different kind of historical understanding: one based not on abstract notions of justice and right, but upon the courage and integrity it takes to breathe life into those virtues.

On the 152nd anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre, as we honor the memory of those who died at Sand Creek, may we also be inspired by the heroic actions of these two American soldiers.


About the author: This article was written by Billy J. Stratton, professor of Native American studies/contemporary American literature, University of Denver.

Source: Native American Pride

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

Save

READ MORE!
Liberators over Vratnica
The Ploesti old fields in southeastern Romania were a vital strategic bombing objective for the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. Located 35 miles north of the capital Bucharest, Ploesti had formerly supplied one-third of Germany’s oil. The U.S. had targeted Ploesti to deprive the German military of petroleum. The U.S. first bombed Ploesti on June 12, 1942 during the HALPRO bombing raid. Then on August 1, 1943 during Operation Tidal Wave, a major bombardment was launched.The Soviet Red Army advance on Yugoslavia and the capital Belgrade in 1944 was launched from Romania. Russian troops had captured Ploesti ...
READ MORE
A Biography of Kurt Waldheim (Austria) – A Fourth U.N. Secretary-General
The U.N. Organization was established in 1945 for the very security reason – to preserve the peace in the world. We believe that the governmental bodies and administrative structures of the U.N. have to be composed by the proved democratically oriented politicians and magistrates but above all this requirement has to be applied to the post and function of the U.N. Secretary-General. Nevertheless, in the history of the U.N. there is at least one (extremely) problematic appointment to the post of the U.N. Secretary-General: Kurt Waldheim from Austria. On the official website of the U.N. about its fourth Secretary-General one can ...
READ MORE
Trump, Brexit and the Collapse of the Liberal Order
One of the most confounding aspects of Donald Trump’s election as 45th President of the United States is that in the space of a year – indeed less than a year – a man with zero political experience has destroyed two of America’s most entrenched political dynasties: Bush and Clinton. Just pause on this for a moment, and place it in the context of someone who when he first appeared on the political stage as a candidate for the Republican nomination was met with ridicule and scorn. Consequently, a mainstream media and liberal commentators for whom politics is an exclusive club, ...
READ MORE
Ukraine could Learn from Kosovo’s Troubles
There was an interesting announcement recently that went almost entirely unnoticed in the Canadian media. On June 17, Peter Szijjarto, foreign minister of Hungary’s centre-right government, made the startling declaration that his national security forces will erect a four-metre wall along the entire 175 kilometres of shared border with Serbia. Szijjarto’s rationale for resorting to such a drastic measure results from a months-long flood of asylum seekers pouring into southern Hungary. While tens of thousands of these desperate illegal immigrants have been caught, detained and returned into Serbia, the vast majority have used the processing time for their asylum applications to simply ...
READ MORE
The Disaster That Bill Clinton Created in Bosnia by Backing Muslims Against the Serbs
Two decades later Bosnia is still suffering the consequences. ISIS has declared the Balkans the next front for the Islamic Caliphate, and in remote mountain villages, Muslims are already flying the ISIS flag.Central Bosnia in 2015Russia Insider (h/t Maksim)  The Balkans is the latest arena where the West is trying to circumcise any attempt of Russia to regainits influence. This anti-Serbian resolution and initiative is the part of the broader strategy and the latest Western attempt to demonize Serbs and delegitimize pro-Russian Republic of Srpska (Serbian part of Bosnia) in an effort to forcefully centralize Bosnia and give the driving seat to ...
READ MORE
The Dishonest Career of the Remarkable Srđa Popović
Many readers likely never heard the name of the remarkable Serbia-born political operator named Srđa Popović. Yet he and his organization, CANVAS, have played a lead role in most every CIA-backed Color Revolution since he led the toppling of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, at least fifty according to last count. Now he has turned his sights on Hungary and Hungary’s popular and defiant Prime Minister Victor Orban. On September 8, the professional regime-change specialist Srđa Popović came to Budapest and joined with the anti-Orban opposition groups in front of the Hungarian Parliament. It‘s clear that Popović was not ...
READ MORE
Washington’s War Crimes in Syria
The United States government is guilty of war crimes. This is the stark conclusion reached by the independent international commission of inquiry established by the United Nations in 2011 to investigate human rights violations stemming from the protracted US-backed war for regime change in Syria. The Pentagon’s relentless bombing campaign in and around the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the so-called “capital” of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has inflicted a “staggering loss of civilian life,” while forcing over 160,000 civilians to flee their homes, Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN’s commission of inquiry, said on Wednesday. US warplanes ...
READ MORE
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) looks on as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi speaks during a meeting at the Plaza Hotel on September 19, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / DOMINICK REUTER
“Fool me once, shame on you; but fool me twice, shame on me.”Ancient proverb, (sometimes attributed to an Italian, Russian or Chinese proverb) “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius, and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” Ernst F. Schumacher (1911-1977) (in ‘Small is Beautiful’, an essay, in The Radical Humanist, Aug. 1973, p. 22). “The powers-that-be understand that to create the appropriate atmosphere for war, it’s necessary to create within the general populace a hatred, fear or mistrust of others regardless of whether those others belong ...
READ MORE
A Look at “Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam”
In Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (Metropolitan Books. New York. 2013), Turse writes that the US military’s official position, and the popular understanding in the US, is that leadership “has never condoned wanton killing or disregard for human life.” (2) On the rare occasions when atrocities are brought to light, they are blamed on low-level individuals and are said to be aberrations having nothing to do with official policy. The My Lai massacre, for example, was blamed on Lieutenant William Calley, who is said to have gone “crazy” (4,5) – although he and his unit ...
READ MORE
Russian Sanctions Latest Betrayal of Post-Cold War Agreements
While the US claims recent sanctions targeting Russia are based on alleged Russian interference in last year’s US elections, a careful examination of US policy post-Cold War reveals a systematic campaign aimed at undermining Moscow, encircling Russia and attempting to overturn the current, prevailing political order there in favor of one dominated by US interests.At each step, various excuses are concocted, mainly to mesh with current political narratives embedded within public perception at any given time. Currently, playing left and right-leaning Americans against one another regarding the 2016 election and still-unproven allegations that Russia played a hand at tipping the ...
READ MORE
Is Slavery Still Exist?
A good tradition of the British and the West European colonialism Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
READ MORE
Trolling Russia
The edifice of the post-1991 world order is collapsing right before our eyes. President Putin’s decision to give a miss to the Auschwitz pilgrimage, right after his absence in Paris at Charlie festival, gave it the last shove. It was good clean fun to troll Russia, as long as she stayed the course. Not anymore. Russia broke the rules. Until now, Russia, like a country bumpkin in Eton, tried to belong. It attended the gathering of the grandees where it was shunned, paid its dues to European bodies that condemned it, patiently suffered ceaseless hectoring of the great powers and irritating baiting of the East European small-timers alike. But something broke there. The lad does ...
READ MORE
For 68 Years NATO Failing to Create a Peaceful World
It is unreasonable to ask taxpayers to pay billions more dollars for NATO’s budget because they get less and less peace, security and stability, says Jan Oberg, director of Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the bloc’s security spending would see its biggest increase since 2014, by 4.3 per cent in 2017. This is a response to US President Donald Trump‘s criticism of NATO countries failing to increase military budgets. Stoltenberg also said the alliance has combat-ready forces along Russia’s border. “NATO’s four multinational battle groups in the Baltic countries and Poland are now fully operational, ...
READ MORE
US Imperialism Wages Permanent Warfare to Prevent its Inevitable Collapse
The US has always been a warfare state. However, the character of US imperialist warfare has changed dramatically. For over two centuries, the US regime’s purpose for war, whether on indigenous peoples, Black people, or nations all over the world, was to expand the productive forces of capitalist exploitation. War preceded the vast profits accumulated from chattel slavery, land grab, and resource extraction in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The foundation of white supremacy and capitalism allowed the US regime to consolidate its expansion despite episodes of periodic crisis. Recent events, alongside a steady fall in the rate of capitalist profit, indicate ...
READ MORE
America Created Al-Qaeda and the ISIS Terror Group
Incisive article originally published by GR in September 2014.  Terror attacks in Western cities (Manchester, Paris, Brussels, Nice, Barcelona…) allegedly perpetrated by Al Qaeda-ISIS.          *     *     *Much like Al Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS) is made-in-the-USA, an instrument of terror designed to divide and conquer the oil-rich Middle East and to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region.The fact that the United States has a long and torrid history of backing terrorist groups will surprise only those who watch the news and ignore history.The CIA first aligned itself with extremist Islam during ...
READ MORE
Ignorance and Indoctrination of Westerners Kills Millions
Our Planet Earth is heading straight towards the most dangerous collision in its history. It is not a collision with some foreign body, with an asteroid or a comet, but with the most brutal and selfish chunk of its own inhabitants: with people who proudly call themselves “members of the Western civilization.” Again and again it is clearly demonstrated that Western culture, which the paramount psychologist Carl Jung used to call “pathology”, couldn’t be trusted. This “culture” had already mercilessly slaughtered several hundreds of millions of people in all corners of the world; it enslaved entire continents, and plundered all that had ...
READ MORE
World War I Homage – A Triumph of Lies and Platitudes
World leaders gathered in Paris on Sunday under the Arc de Triomphe to mark the centennial anniversary ending World War I. In an absurd way, the Napoleon-era arc was a fitting venue – because the ceremony and the rhetoric from President Emmanuel Macron was a “triumph” of lies and platitudes. Among the estimated 70 international leaders were US President Trump and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, each sitting on either side of Macron and his wife. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also given pride of place beside the French president. Macron’s address to the dignitaries was supposed to be a call for international ...
READ MORE
The “Kaunas Garage Massacre” in 1941: The Lithuanians are Clubbing Lithuania’s Jewish (Litvakai) to Death (Photos)
In June and July 1941, detachments of German Einsatzgruppen, together with Lithuanian auxiliaries, began murdering the Jews of Lithuania. Groups of partisans, civil units of nationalist-rightist anti-Soviet affiliation, initiated contact with the Germans as soon as they entered the Lithuanian territories. A rogue unit of insurgents headed by Algirdas Klimaitis and encouraged by Germans from the Sicherheitspolizei and Sicherheitsdienst, started anti-Jewish pogroms in Kaunas (Polish: Kovno) on the night of 25–27 June 1941. Over a thousand Jews perished over the next few days in what was the first pogrom in Nazi-occupied Lithuania. The most infamous incident occurred in what was ...
READ MORE
The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II
World War II marked the apogee of industrialized “total war.” Great powers savaged one another. Hostilities engulfed the globe. Mobilization extended to virtually every sector of every nation. Air war, including the terror bombing of civilians, emerged as a central strategy of the victorious Anglo-American powers. The devastation was catastrophic almost everywhere, with the notable exception of the United States, which exited the strife unscathed and unmatched in power and influence. The death toll of fighting forces plus civilians worldwide was staggering. The Violent American Century addresses the U.S.-led transformations in war conduct and strategizing that followed 1945—beginning with brutal localized ...
READ MORE
NATO – A Dangerous Alliance
When the Warsaw Pact ended, after the collapse of communism, some optimists might have expected Nato to be broken up too. After all, the Labour Party in Britain had been opposed to Nato in the mid-1980s. But that was not to be. The US, which had always dominated Nato, quickly began to reinvent Nato and furthermore to expand it. Following the end of the Warsaw Pact many central and east European governments wanted to join Nato. This of course was music to the ears of the US military manufacturers. Indeed, the chair of the expand Nato committee, Bruce Jackson, was technical director of ...
READ MORE
Liberators over Vratnica
A Biography of Kurt Waldheim (Austria) – A Fourth U.N. Secretary-General
Trump, Brexit and the Collapse of the Liberal Order
Ukraine could Learn from Kosovo’s Troubles
The Disaster That Bill Clinton Created in Bosnia by Backing Muslims Against the Serbs
The Dishonest Career of the Remarkable Srđa Popović
Washington’s War Crimes in Syria
False Flags and the Trump Administration
A Look at “Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam”
Russian Sanctions Latest Betrayal of Post-Cold War Agreements
Is Slavery Still Exist?
Trolling Russia
For 68 Years NATO Failing to Create a Peaceful World
US Imperialism Wages Permanent Warfare to Prevent its Inevitable Collapse
America Created Al-Qaeda and the ISIS Terror Group
Ignorance and Indoctrination of Westerners Kills Millions
World War I Homage – A Triumph of Lies and Platitudes
The “Kaunas Garage Massacre” in 1941: The Lithuanians are Clubbing Lithuania’s Jewish (Litvakai) to Death (Photos)
The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II
NATO – A Dangerous Alliance
Global-Politics.eu

Written by Global-Politics.eu

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu