Truth seeking

“The Sand Creek Massacre” by Robert Lindneaux (cropped) portrays his concept of the assault on the peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho village by the U.S. Army. History Colorado #46619

Acclaimed U.S. historian considers The Sand Creek Massacre

Historians must grapple with myriad, often contrary perspectives to seek truth in the stories of the past and re-tell them accurately. Thanks to the Boulder History Museum, you can meet one of the very best in the business.

Dr. Ari Kelman

Dr. Ari Kelman

This Wednesday, the museum presents Dr. Ari Kelman, who will discuss the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, a tragic event of the American West that occurred 150 years ago but continues to sting and smolder today.

Sand Creek was a slaughter of innocents. Seven hundred members of the U.S. Army attacked, mutilated and murdered between 70 – 163 Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians, most of whom were women and children, in a remote part of Southeast Colorado.

It was a particularly shameful moment in the country’s westward expansion, and undeniably one of the worst atrocities ever committed by the government. Yet memorializing Sand Creek often has been a process fraught with historical perspectives at odds.

“There are a variety of controversies about the way in which people in the West think about Sand Creek and view its implications,” Dr. Kelman says. “The people of Boulder have been relatively fearless about engaging with these issues over several years, and it’s an honor for me to be a part of that conversation.”

Dr. Kelman, currently the McCabe Greer Professor of History at Penn State University, has carefully deconstructed Sand Creek, considering it from every angle in his 2013 book A Misplaced Massacre, Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek. The work received enthusiastic praise for its historical integrity and compelling story telling, and won the 2014 Bancroft Prize, considered by many as the most prestigious honor in the field of American history.

Some of the angles Dr. Kelman’s talk will consider include the details of Sand Creek and the event’s lasting impact on Indian policy. He also will consider the challenges in memorializing the event – such as the dedication, at long last, of a National Historic Site in Kiowa County, CO some 142 years after the massacre.

“For Coloradans in particular, Sand Creek is a pivotal moment in history,” he says. “It is impossible to fully understand who we are and where we are going without understanding this event.”

Boulder History Museum presents Dr. Ari Kelman discussing the Sand Creek Massacre
Wednesday, October 22 | 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Future home of the Museum of Boulder
2205 Broadway in Boulder
BUY TICKETS ONLINE ($10 | $8  for members)

Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell speaks November 19
Don’t miss a related talk by Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, whose determined efforts led to the establishment of The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site. Congressman David Skaggs served with Campbell in Congress and will interview Campbell about the historic site and its importance to all Americans. More information here.