Unit Overview

https://native-history.sites.grinnell.edu/plugins/Dropbox/files/Sand Creek Unit Plan.pdf

Unit Plan 

On November 29, 1864, a group of approximately 675 Colorado cavalrymen led by Col. John Chivington attacked an encampment of approximately 800-900 Cheyenne and Arapaho people, many of whom were women and children, and unarmed. This massacre, as students will learn, is directly related to the Civil War, and as such this unit can fit within a larger unit on the Civil War. Moreover, through this unit, students will gain some perspective about Westward Expansion as seen through the eyes of the Cheyenne and Arapaho people. This unit will use the Sand Creek Massacre to develop understandings of how historians deal with conflicting narratives to create stories. By analyzing the conflicting accounts of the Sand Creek Massacre, students will learn how to interrogate sources, their authors, and their biases. In addition to these historical thinking skills, this unit provides an opportunity to understand the concept of historical memory and the role of national monuments. As the Sand Creek Massacre has largely been written out of most textbooks, this unit encourages students to think about the importance of remembering events.

We remember the Civil War as a war of liberation that freed four million slaves,” historian Ari Kelman says. “But it also became a war of conquest to destroy and dispossess Native Americans.” Sand Creek, he adds, “is a bloody and mostly forgotten link” between the Civil War and the Plains Indian Wars that continued for 25 years after Appomattox. The massacre at Sand Creek accomplished the opposite of what Chivington and his allies had sought, as it united formerly divided tribes into a formidable obstacle to expansion rather than speed the removal of Indians and opening of the Plains to white settlers.