In 1864, Col. John Chivington and his 700 Colorado volunteers, many of them drunk, attacked the sleeping Cheyenne village at Sand Creek. Most of the men were away hunting, so the women, children, and elders were largely defenseless. In the frenzied slaughter, the soldiers scalped and mutilated the corpses, hacking off body parts that included male and female genitals, and then marched down the streets of Denver displaying the body parts to approving crowds. (From history channel)
My wife became haunted with that story almost as if she had been there. Over a period of many years she kept having the accounts pushed in her face–on TV–in magazines–in movies. Finally, she convinced me and another priest to travel with her to Sand Creek to see if she could get come closure.
An Anglican priest, Dr. Kenneth McAll of England had been having supernatural healings as a result of using the Eucharist to break ancestral curses over lands and people. My priest friend and I had both had some success with his teachings.
What do you think you would find in the spot where one of American’s greatest atrocities occurred? To our shock, there was nothing! A state road sign signaled the town of Chivington which had one decaying building. However, using our research, we drove down an old dirt road. At the spot we had calculated the site would be, we found sad little trees with a few Indian prayer pods and some bandannas hanging. The rest was barren scrub brush. We wondered if the people of Colorado were too ashamed to acknowledge what happened and deliberately were hiding everything.
We two priests, performed the Eucharist. Those familiar with the Eucharist/Mass know that we are reliving Jesus’ shedding His blood in the forgiveness of sins for the whole world. The old hymn “there is power, power, wonder working power in the Blood, in the precious Blood of the lamb,”comes to mind. So we asked the Indians to forgive the Whites and the Whites to forgive the Indians as Christ has forgiven us.
We packed up knowing we would never know what happened until we got on the other side.
But, one year later, Congress appropriated the money to make Sand Creek a national park and monument! Many memorial ceremonies are now being held, both by Whites and Indians.
I write this today because I saw Sand Creek is back in the news. The statue-destroying folks want one torn down in Denver even though it turns out to be a Union soldier and not of Chivington as they thought.