Colorado Lawmakers Poised To Replace Capitol's Civil War Monument With Sand Creek Massacre Memorial

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tags: Colorado, Native American history, monuments, public history, Sand Creek Massacre

A statue honoring victims of Colorado's Sand Creek Massacre is likely to soon replace a Civil War monument on the west end of the state Capitol that was toppled during protests last summer.

Descendants of the massacre see the steps of the Capitol as an ideal spot for the Sand Creek memorial because historians say it was where soldiers displayed victims’ bodies during a victory parade through Denver in 1864.

Ryan Ortiz, of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, says putting a new memorial there will promote healing.

“It’s not very often in history, do we have a chance to atone for our ancestors’ mistakes, and this is an opportunity that's presented in front of us to do that and to foster the education and understanding and the healing,” he told lawmakers last week.

The memorial at the site would include a bronze statue of an unnamed Cheyenne or Arapaho woman reaching towards the north, the direction tribes retreated to during the massacre. The statue will also be holding an empty cradleboard, which the tribes say represent mourning and loss.

It is being designed by Cheyenne and Arapaho artist Harvey Pratt, a descendant of a Sand Creek Massacre survivor.

Pratt told lawmakers last week the trauma of the event has been passed down through generations.

“I grew up being told by my grandparents, ‘Keep your shoes by the bed, you might have to get up and run,’” he said. “I didn’t understand that as a little boy. Why would I have to get up and run? They would tell me these stories about how they would be attacked and had to get up and run barefoot in the snow, things like that. So I've always had a feeling for what happened at Sand Creek because of my family history.”

Pratt told lawmakers he prays the memorial, which has been in the planning process since 2016, will be completed.

“We’ve been waiting for a long time,” he said.

Read entire article at KUNC

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