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.
[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]
Uncovering the Western mainstream mass-media lies on Ukraine.Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate to Support UsWe 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.[wpedon id="4696" align="left"]
The recent resolution of the parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE fully equalizes the role of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany at the outbreak of the Second World War, except that it had the purely pragmatic purpose of extorting money from Russia on the contents of some of the bankrupt economies, intended to demonize Russia as the successor state to the USSR, and to prepare the legal ground for the deprivation of her right to speak out against revision of results of war. But if we approach the problem of responsibility for the war, then you first need to answer the ...
The details are supplied in an exhaustive 1,000-page biography of Jean Monnet by Éric Roussel, which was published only in France in 1996, and which seems to have been successfully suppressed. It has never been translated, and has no reviews even at Amazon. However, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of UK's Telegraph newspaper has provided some of the core information from it. Furthermore, Richard J. Aldrich's 2003 The Hidden Hand also provides key details, such as by Aldrich's saying, on page 366, about the American Committee for a United Europe: ACUE, more than any other American front organization of the Cold War, was a ...
What we are seeing today in the fight over birth control is a revival of a very old, and very dangerous kind of Catholicism. It is not one supported or practiced by most Rank and File Catholics. It is a kind of Catholicism which has done irreparable harm. It is a kind of Catholicism unfit for existence in the modern world.It was the underpinning of the regimes of Mussolini in Italy, The National Catholicism of Francisco Franco, in Spain; The Parti Rexiste in Belgium; The Irish Blueshirts; The Croatian Ustaše, the Nazi puppet government in Croatia, and ultimately, was the ...
On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence. Each May 15, Palestinians solemnly commemorate Nakba Day. Nakba means catastrophe, and that’s precisely what Israel’s independence has been for the more than 700,000 Arabs and their five million refugee descendants forced from their homes and into exile, often by horrific violence, to make way for the Jewish state.
Land Without a People?
In the late 19th century, Zionism emerged as a movement for the reestablishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire. Although Jews ruled over kingdoms there more than 2,000 years ago, they never numbered more than ...
The Senate Report’s revelations of CIA torture of suspects following the 9/11 bombing is only the tip of the iceberg. The Report omits the history and wider scope of violent activity in which the CIA has been and continues to be involved. CIA organized large scale death squad activities and extreme torture in Vietnam (Phoenix Project); multiple assassinations of political leaders in the Congo, Chile, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, the Middle East, Central America and elsewhere; the kidnapping and disappearance of suspected activists in Iraq and Afghanistan; massive drug-running and narco-trafficking in the “Golden Triangle” in Southeast Asia and Central America (the Iran-Contra war).The Senate Report fails to locate ...
It is 70-years anniversary of the end of the WWII – the bloodiest and most horrible war ever fought in the human history. The war that caused creation of the UN in 1945 in order to protect the world from similar events in the future – a pan-global political-security organization of which first issued legal act was the UN Charter, which inspired the 1948 Geneva Conventions’ definition of genocide.
The Nüremberg and Tokyo Trials were organized as “The Last Battles” for justice as the first ever global trials for the war criminals and mass murderers including and the top-hierarchy statesmen and ...
We don’t yet know the details behind the tragic downing of the Malaysia Airlines jetliner over eastern Ukraine on July 17, but in one sense, the details aren’t going to matter very much in the global scheme of things. The geopolitical outcome is already known. World outrage has focused on Russian president Vladimir Putin to such an extent that Putin has suffered a huge loss of moral authority. That, in turn, lessens his range of actions in his ongoing confrontation with the West over Ukraine and increases the likelihood that Russia will lose its traditional dominance over that split country ...
While it is certainly true that the Jewish people have relatively deep roots in the land that is today known as Palestine and Israel, this area has been a crossroads since the origins of the human species. In fact the oldest known Homo sapiens fossil outside of Africa was recently found in modern-day Israel, dated at approximately 180,000 years old. Neanderthal bones have also been found in the Levant.In historical times the Palestine region or parts of it have been controlled by numerous different peoples and regional powers, including the Canaanites, Amorites, Ancient Egyptians, Israelites, Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, ...
Albert Einstein’s 1948 letter to the New York Times
If we want to understand the real history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, we can turn to a trustworthy Jewish source: Albert Einstein. Einstein was a humanitarian and peace activist, in addition to being one of the greatest scientists of all time. What did this extremely intelligent, wonderfully wise and warmly humane Jew have to say about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians? In a landmark open letter to the New York Times in 1948, Einstein clearly and candidly explained why Israel’s militant Zionist leaders were not to be trusted and did not deserve money ...
Genocidal corporate media presstitutes follow the all-too-familiar script of blaming the victim for the crimes perpetrated by aggressor nations.
NATO terrorists, for example, are invading and occupying Syria, and the Syria government is blamed for the ensuing disasters, but the presstitutes omit this this from their narratives and instead find creative ways to blame the al Assad government whose duty it is to protect Syria, its sovereignty, and its territorial integrity. When terrorists are occupying cities, as they do in Syria, innocent people will always be victimized, including during government operations to clear out the terrorist infestations, but the presstitutes blame ...
Universal Periodic Review reveals longstanding unwillingness to fully commit to obligations of pertinent human rights treaties.On 11 May 2015, the United States of America participated in its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The Universal Periodic Review is meant to be a mechanism by which all UN Member States are periodically assessed on their human rights record. The process allows countries to present a report of their efforts to promote and improve human rights within their country. It also affords the Working Group of the UPR, comprised of member countries of the Human Rights Council, the opportunity to assess the human ...
The superhighway to disaster is already being paved.From Donald Trump’s first days in office, news of the damage to America’s international stature has come hard and fast. As if guided by some malign design, the new president seemed to identify the key pillars that have supported U.S. global power for the past 70 years and set out to topple each of them in turn. By degrading NATO, alienating Asian allies, cancelling trade treaties, and slashing critical scientific research, the Trump White House is already in the process of demolishing the delicately balanced architecture that has sustained Washington’s world leadership since ...
On March 11, 2006, President Slobodan Milosevic died in a NATO prison. No one has been held accountable for his death. In the 12 years since the end of his lonely struggle to defend himself and his country against the false charges invented by the NATO powers, the only country to demand a public inquiry into the circumstances of his death came from Russia when Foreign Minister, Serge Lavrov, stated that Russia did not accept the Hague tribunal’s denial of responsibility and demanded that an impartial and international investigation be conducted. Instead, The NATO tribunal made its own investigation, known ...
One of many Serbian Orthodox churches in Kosovo (14th century)A couple of months ago I chanced upon the Emperor’s Clothes Website.I noticed their startling claim that we have been systematically lied to about Yugoslavia, including Slobodan Milosevic. As they told it, he was not guilty of racist incitement and genocide; rather he advocated multiethnic peace. Since their views sharply contradicted my own, I started systematically checking their references by obtaining the relevant original documents. I have yet to find a single claim in error.This was particularly surprising regarding the famous speech that Slobodan Milosevic delivered at Kosovo Field in 1989 ...
The chemical poisoning of civilians in Syria has proved a boon and a blessing for the West’s militarists who energetically seek confrontation with Russia — and with China and any other countries that might pop up on their screens of raging aggression. Nobody doubts for an instant that chemical agents are vile and that anyone using them offensively should be severely punished. But the pseudo-sympathy of those who profess to be shocked — shocked! — by pictures of dead children, supposedly killed by chemical weapons, is obnoxious.
Trump declared “I will tell you that attack on children yesterday had a big ...
Fifty years ago this next month (December 1965), with the urging of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the rubber stamp approval of President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, the United States Air Force started secretly spraying the forests of Laos with a deadly herbicide that was known as Agent Orange.
Operation Ranch Hand, whose motto was “Only We Can Prevent Forests” (a shameful takeoff of Smokey the Bear’s admonition), was a desperate, costly and ultimately futile effort to make it a little harder for the National Liberation Front soldiers from North Vietnam to join and supply their ...
Seventy-five years ago Adolf Hitler launched the biggest and most destructive military campaign in history when three million German and allied troops invaded the Soviet Union along a 1,000-mile front.Operation Barbarossa – the codename for the German invasion of Russia - was no ordinary military campaign: it was an ideological and racist war, a war of destruction and extermination that aimed to kill Jews, enslave the Slavic peoples and destroy communism. The result was a war in which 25 million Soviet citizens died, including a million Jews, executed by the SS in 1941-1942 – an action which became the template ...
Never had so many people been put in prison. The size of the Allied captures was unprecedented in all history. The Soviets took prisoner some 3.5 million Europeans, the Americans about 6.1 million, the British about 2.4 million, the Canadians about 300,000, the French around 200,000. Uncounted millions of Japanese entered American captivity in 1945, plus about 640,000 entering Soviet captivity.As soon as Germany surrendered on 8 May 1945, the American Military Governor, General Eisenhower, sent out an “urgent courier” throughout the huge area that he commanded, making it a crime punishable by death for German civilians to feed prisoners. ...
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 ...
British Imperial Project in Ukraine: Violent Coup, Fascist Axioms, Neo-Nazis (2014)
Hitler Was Financed by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England
How the CIA Created the EU
Opus Dei: Neofascism Within the Catholic Church
The Dark Side of Israeli Independence
CIA: The Politics of a Global Secret Police Force
The Unspoken Crimes of World War II: The Dresden Massacre of 1945
The Ghosts of World War I Circle Over Ukraine
A Brief History of Palestine and Israel
Albert Einstein’s 1948 Letter to the New York Times Comparing Israeli Politicians to Nazis
Genocidal Corporate Media
US Human Rights Violations: Geneva Centre for Justice
The Demolition of U.S. Global Power
The Death of Milosevic and NATO’s Responsibility: Was He Assassinated?
How Politicians, the Media, and Scholars Lied about Slobodan Milosevic’s 1989 Kosovo Speech
Western Hypocrisy About Airstrike Killings
War Crimes: Agent Orange, Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Other Ugly Legacies of the Vietnam War
Operation Barbarossa: The 75th Anniversary of the Nazi Invasion of the Soviet Union
A Holocaust was what the Americans Did to the Germans: Eisenhower’s Starvation Order
Washington’s War Crimes in Syria
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS