On November 29, 1864, a cavalry unit from the U.S. Army attacked a peaceful village of Cheyenne and Arapaho settlers on the banks of the Sand Creek, Colorado. The Sand Creek Massacre is one of the worst acts committed by the United States in the so-called “Indian Wars” of the 1800s.
 
Although the Cheyenne-Arapaho camp was peaceful, there were longstanding conflicts between the U.S. Army and Native Americans. Cheyenne and Arapaho people had endured several forced relocations from their Midwestern homes, largely due to white immigrants seeking to profit from the nearby Pikes Peak Gold Rush. Many young Cheyenne also identified themselves as “Dog Soldiers,” militants who rejected government agreements that limited their sovereignty. Dog Soldiers had attacked Army cavalry troops for months leading up to the Sand Creek Massacre.
 
The Sand Creek Massacre began as Army troops rode down from hills to the Native American village in the dry river valley. The American flag was flying over the village, which Army officers had told Native American leaders would signal the village’s friendly status. Most adult men in the village had left on a bison hunt, leaving mostly women, children, the elderly, and sick or injured. Regardless, American soldiers fired on the inhabitants. Dozens fled to dunes near the dry river, where they attempted to dig protective trenches. 
 
More than 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho were killed in the massacre. Today, the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site commemorates the tragedy.
Arapaho
Noun

people and culture native to the Midwest of the U.S.

bank
Noun

a slope of land adjoining a body of water, or a large elevated area of the sea floor.

cavalry
Noun

military unit that serves on horseback.

Cheyenne
Noun

people and culture native to the northern Midwest of the United States.

commemorate
Verb

to honor an event on a specific date.

conflict
Noun

a disagreement or fight, usually over ideas or procedures.

Noun

a mound or ridge of loose sand that has been deposited by wind.

endure
Verb

to survive.

forced relocation
Noun

migration of people from one place to another, as ordered by the government or international authority.

gold rush
Noun

mass migration of people to a region where gold has been discovered.

government
Noun

system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

immigrant
Noun

person who moves to a new country or region.

inhabitant
Noun

resident.

massacre
Noun

mass killing of large number of people.

Midwest
Noun

area of the United States consisting of the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

militant
Noun

person who is very aggressive and even violent in support of a cause.

Native American
Noun

person whose ancestors were native inhabitants of North or South America. Native American usually does not include Eskimo or Hawaiian people.

profit
Noun

money earned after production costs and taxes are subtracted.

protect
Verb

to take action to prevent injury or attack.

reject
Verb

to refuse or throw away.

river valley
Noun

depression in the earth caused by a river eroding the surrounding soil.

settler
Noun

person who migrates and establishes a residence in a largely unpopulated area.

signal
Noun

something that serves as a sign or communication.

sovereignty
Noun

power or independence within a region.

tragedy
Noun

very sad event.

trench
Noun

long, deep depression, either natural or man-made.

troop
Noun

a soldier.

Noun

small human settlement usually found in a rural setting.

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