Polis Repeals Colorado Order to ‘Kill and Destroy… Indians’
The Sand Creek Massacre
In 1864, Territorial Governor John Evans issued a proclamation that directed Coloradans to 'kill and destroy....hostile Indians." The executive order ultimately led to the historic Sand Creek Massacre in which Col. John Chivington and 675 volunteer soldiers attacked a peaceful gathering of Cheyenne and Arapahoe women, children, and elders. There are varying reports on the number of Indiana casualties that day, but it's estimated that 230 American Indians were slaughtered that day, many of which were women and children.
Governor Polis Signs Corrective Proclamation
According to Colorado Politics, Rick Williams, a Lakota Cheyenne elder recently discovered the proclamations by Governor Evans and then learned the executive orders had never been rescinded. When Colorado became a state 12 years later, the proclamations were no longer the rule of law but remained on the books. The executive order signed by Governor Polis says the Evans proclamations "remain as a symbol of a gross abuse of executive power during that grave period in our state's history."
The executive order continues:
For these reasons, I find it necessary to officially finally rescind the shameful 1894 Proclamations through this Executive Order and provide closure for this dark period of our territorial history.
Governor Polis signed the Executive Order Tuesday on the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol in a ceremony that included members of the Southern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribe, the Northern Arapaho tribe, and members of Colorado's American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
It's Symbolic, But Necessary
The action taken by the Colorado governor is largely symbolic but sends an important message that the horrific actions of the past and the wrongs committed against Native Americans 157 years are not reflective of what Colorado and its people stand for today. The Governor says it's also a way to "honor the memories of those we lost by recognizing their sacrifice and promising to do better."
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