The Sand Creek Massacre - Black Kettle Letter
to Agent Samuel Colley and Major Edward Wynkoop
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We'll never forget
(Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Dept.)
1 – The “letter from Bent” that Black Kettle refers to is the first proclamation issued by Governor Evans. This
proclamation, written in late June, was not delivered to Black Kettle until sometime in August. Bent, as well as many of
the other agents sent to deliver the proclamation, had a difficult time finding the hundreds of nomadic Indian bands
roaming Kansas and Nebraska. In the meantime, Evans had abandoned his first proposal and issued his second
proclamation that essentially declared war on all Indian tribes on the Plains.
2 – Although Black Kettle refers to Indian prisoners in Denver, no such captives existed, for any Indians that ventured near
the city would surely have been killed on sight.
3 - Laura Roper, Isabel Eubank, Dan Marble, Ambrose Archer were in the possession of Left Hand and his cousin, Neva.
Left Hand and Black Kettle had negotiated a trade with the Dog Soldier warriors that captured them in a murderous raid
on the Little Blue River. Lucinda Eubank and her infant son, William Jr., were separated from Laura and Isabel after the
raids, and were in the possession the Sioux warrior Two Face. Two women, known as Mrs. Snyder (kidnapped by Little
Raven’s son near Fort Lyon), and a Mrs. Morton (kidnapped on the Platte) were the other captives. At the time Black Kettle
sent this letter, he only knew the exact whereabouts of Laura and the three other children. He was apparently gambling
on the possibility of rounding up the others, if Wynkoop agreed to his terms. In the end, Black Kettle only returned Laura,
Isabel, Dan and Ambrose. He would promise to try to find the others but failed to do so.
In late August 1864, Cheyenne Principal
Chief Black Kettle held council at his Smoky
Hill River camp with other Cheyenne and
Arapaho chiefs to discuss a peace proposal
to the Union Army. The growing number of
warrior depredations against whites during
the summer had reached a fevered pitch,
leaving the non-combatant tribes
vulnerable to army reprisals. Black Kettle,
War Bonnet, White Antelope, and One Eye,
with Arapaho chiefs Left Hand and Little
Raven, couldn’t convince the warrior clans
among their own tribes to cease hostilities.
They therefore decided to propose a peace
council with Major Edward Wynkoop at Fort
Lyon that might secure the safety of the
peaceably inclined Indians within their own
Although the whole of the Cheyenne Dog
Soldiers and Arapaho warriors refused to
endorse the proposal, Black Kettle did
enlist the support of one war chief, Bull
Bear of the Dog Soldiers. With the help of
George Bent (the half-Cheyenne son of
William Bent) and Bent’s brother-in-law,
Edmund Guerrier (married to George Bent’s
sister), the following letter resulted. Two
letters were actually written, one to Indian
Agent Samuel Colley, and an identical copy
to Major Wynkoop, on the recommendation
of Bent, who advised Black Kettle to direct
his proposal to both a military commander
and also to a government representative.
This letter, accepted by Wynkoop, led to the
Smoky Hill Council, in which Wynkoop
successfully treated with Black Kettle and
rescued four captive white children held by
the Cheyennes and Arapahos.
|Copyright © Colorado College
Courtesy Special Collections, Tutt Library,
Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
|Sand Creek also
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Cheyenne Village Aug. 29th/64
We received a letter from Bent wishing us to make peace. 1 We held a consel in regard to it & all came
to the conclusion to make peace with you providing you make peace with the Kiowas; Commenches,
Arrapahoes Apaches and Siouxs.
We are going to send a messenger to the Kiowas and to the other nations about our going to make with
you. We heard that you some prisoners in Denver. 2 We have seven prisoners of you which we are
willing to give up providing you give up yours. 3
There are three war parties out yet and two of Arrapahoes. they have been out some time and exspect
When we held this counsel there were few Arrapahoes and Siouxs present. we want true news from you
in return, that is a letter.
Black Kittle &
Brought to Ft Lyon Sunday Sept 4th 1864 by One Eye –