The Sand Creek Massacre
First Proclamation issued by Governor John Evans, June 27, 1864
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COLORADO SUPERINTENDENCY INDIAN AFFAIRS,
Denver, June 27, 1864.
TO THE FRIENDLY INDIANS OF THE PLAINS:
Agents, interpreters, and traders will inform the friendly Indians of the plains that some members of their tribes have gone to war
with the white people. They steal stock and run it off, hoping to escape detection and punishment. In some instances they have
attacked and killed soldiers and murdered peaceable citizens. For this the Great Father is angry, and will certainly hunt them out
and punish them, but he does not want to injure those who remain friendly to the whites. He desires to protect and take care of
them. For this purpose I direct that all friendly Indians keep away from those who are at war, and go to places of safety. Friendly
Arapahoes and Cheyennes belonging on the Arkansas River will go to Major Colley, U. S. Indian agent at Fort Lyon, who will give
them provisions, and show them a place of safety. Friendly Kiowas and Comanches will go to Fort Larned, where they will be
cared for in the same way. Friendly Sioux will go to their agent at Fort Laramie for directions. Friendly Arapahoes and Cheyennes
of the Upper Platte will go to Camp Collins on the Cache la Poudre, where they will be assigned a place of safety and provisions
will be given them.
The object of this is to prevent friendly Indians from being killed through mistake. None but those who intend to be friendly with
the whites must come to these places. The families of those who have gone to war with the whites must be kept away from among
the friendly Indians. The war on hostile Indians will be continued until they are all effectually subdued.
Governor of Colorado and Superintendent of Indian Affairs.
“War of the Rebellion” - United States War Dept. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union
and Confederate Armies. Four series, 128 volumes. Series I - Volume XLI - Part I. Washington: Government Printing Office.
1880-1901. pp. 963-964
On June 27, 1864, Colorado Territorial Governor John Evans
issued a proclamation: To The Friendly Indians of the Plains,
hoping to separate non-combatant Plains Indians tribes from the
warrior clans that had declared war on Colorado settlers. Given
time and proper communication between the Administrative and
Military branches of the government, Evans’ plan might have
been successful. Unfortunately, military leaders, who were
preoccupied with the Civil War, had paid little attention to the
growing problems brewing between the Indians and settlers in
Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado.
Union soldiers on the plains were left on their own to make
decisions, and Colonel John M. Chivington was given specific
orders to ignore district lines to pursue and kill the warriors
guilty of murdering soldiers and civilians, and taking white
women and children hostages. Chivington, in turn, had ordered
all fort commanders to keep the Indians away from their
respective military outposts, authorizing a shoot first, ask
questions later policy. The commanders were given no order to
attempt to differentiate friendly Indians from the warriors.
Because Evans had no authority over the military, his
proclamation ran in direct conflict with military policy, and many
Cheyennes and Arapahos that received the Governor’s orders
were fired upon when they attempted to surrender.
|Colorado Territorial Governor
(Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Dept.)
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