portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article announcements oregon & cascadia

anti-racism | indigenous issues | legacies

November 29, Sand Creek Remebrance Day in Olympia

On November 29, Olympians will commemerate the Sand Creek Massacre with an afternoon of prayer, atonement, and information sharing about the past and present struggles of indigenous peoples on this continent.
In celebration of Union military victories, President Lincoln in 1863 declared the last Thursday of November would be an annual day of national thanksgiving. On Thursday, November 24, 1864, Colonel John Chivington of the Colordado Volunteers celebrated second annual Thanksgiving holiday by marching his troops out of Denver headed for Sand Creek. Black Kettle's band of Cheyenne, having earlier surendered to, and allied themselves with, the US Army, were camped by the Army's instruction at Sand Creek. Colonel Chivington, had given a speech in Denver a few months prior were he was quoted as saying in relation to Indians, "kill and scalp all, big and little, nits make lice". His Volunteers found Black Kettle's band on the frosty morning of November 29 at day break. Most of the young men of the band were out on a buffalo hunt. Seeing the soldiers, Black Kettle raised up the American Flag given to him by the soldiers at Fort Lyon as a gesture of good faith. Along with it, he raised a white flag, and he gathered his family around him. Chivington and his soldiers attacked and murdered Black Kettle and about 150 members of his band in cold blood that morning. Afterwards Chivington's soldiers cut off the women's genitals and used them to decorate thier hats and their saddle horns. They scalped and mutilate every single person who was killed. This event Teddy Roosevelt later reffered to as "as righteous and beneficial a deed as ever took place on the frontier."

We feel that this event is more representative of the nature of the interaction between the indigenous people of this continent and the Europeans who invaded it, than is the glib, myopic Thanksgiving story of Indians and pligrims sharing a meal. We feel that if the people of this continent are ever to build for themselves a just future that it must begin by accurately understanding and accepting responsibility for the past. As such, we propose the abandonment of the Thanksgiving holiday and replacing it with Sand Creek Remembrance day. We feel that the European invasion of this continent deserves to be remembered with prayer and fasting and work to build a better future and not with glutony, self congratulation, and white children dressed up as "Indians" using paper head dresses.

Toward this end, we are organizing an afternoon of prayer, atonement, and information sharing about the past and present struggles facing indigenous people on this continent. It will be held in Sylvester park in Olympia from 12 to 3 on November 29. Tents will be provided in the event of rain. Organizing meetings will be in Olympia at Media Island at 12:00 on Sundays. Please join us.