The Differing Perspectives of the Battle of Sand Creek (1880 words)

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As the Civil War in the east was beginning to wind down, another conflict – this one in the far West -- was just starting to heat up. In late 1864, Col. John Chivington led a Colorado into the Indian encampment at Sand Creek.

What followed was a tragic episode that in many ways proved symptomatic of persistent European – and now, American – hubris, exemplified through their respective relationships with Native Americans over a span of more t than 350 years of steady European colonization of North and South America.

You are to logon to the PBS website www.pbs.org. In the search window, type in "The West." You should find a page that displays a list of links. Go to the first one, "New Perspectives on The West," and click on. A new page should appear, and you should click on the tab that says "resources" located underneath the banner. Once you get to the resources page, click on to "Archives of the West."

From there, click on where it says, "Documents on the Sand Creek Massacre, 1864-1865."

Or, you might try a shortcut by going to google and typing in "Sand Creek Massacre Documents" and that should take you to the proper site.

You are to write a five-page paper based on the following documents: the two editorials of the Rocky Mountain News, the Congressional testimony of Mr. John Smith, and the testimony of Col. John Chivington. Consider the following questions:

What is the position of the Rocky Mountain News? Why would it assume the editorial position it does?

Summarize the accounts offered by Smith and Chivington. How does each differ? Are there any inconsistencies in their testimonies?

What explanation does Smith give for the Union attack on the Cheyenne and Arapahoe settlement and what motivations does he cite for Chivington's actions? How does Chivington justify the attack? Use specific examples, quotes from these primary sources to back up your paper.

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During the larger conflict of the Civil War, a lesser known war was fought between white settlers and Native (American) Indians on the frontier, particularly in the Colorado, Nebraska, and western Kansas regions. Regardless of perspective, the Battle of Sand Creek exemplifies the tensions and friction between these groups. Using primary sources, editorials from the Rocky Mountain News (1864), congressional testimony from an eye witness John Smith (1865) and finally the deposition of the commander John M. Chivington (1865) I will show the complicated relationship of American settlers with the Native Indians which led to the Battle of Sand Creek, subsequently known as the “Sand Creek Massacre.”
The tensions on both sides of the war were high in the spring of 1864 when a wing of the Cheyenne tribe of Indians unleashed attacks on white settlers. In the fall, Colorado Territorial officers, such as Major Anthony (Commander of Fort Lyon) offered vague amnesty and protection if the Indians would report to army forts and remain in the vicinity. Chief Black Kettle of the Cheyenne tribe and many of the Arapaho tribe members decided to report and settled near the fort for the winter. ("PBS - THE WEST - Documents on the Sand Creek Massacre (1864-1865)", 2001, p. 5)....
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