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History Colorado highlights Native American Heritage Month with several events across our state

Various ongoing projects, programs, and exhibits across the state center around Native American perspectives
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Posted at 7:44 AM, Nov 04, 2022

DENVER – November is Native American Heritage Month. In recognition of the month, History Colorado is highlighting the stories and contributions of the Indigenous people who call Colorado home.

Sam Bock is a historian and exhibit developer at History Colorado. He said their biggest exhibit will commemorate the Sand Creek Massacre.

“The Sand Creek Massacre is the deadliest day in Colorado history,” Bock said. “And it was incredible betrayal of the trust of the Cheyenne and Arapaho people that ultimately led to their expulsion from Colorado and ongoing generational trauma that still exists in these communities.”

At sunrise on November 29, 1864, the U.S. Army attacked a camp of mostly women, children, and elders on Big Sandy Creek in southeastern Colorado. The soldiers murdered more than 230 peaceful people.

Bock says the exhibit, which will open on November 19, is a project 10 years in the making. He said History Colorado tried opening an exhibit in 2012, much to the disappointment of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.

“This trauma and the stories, you know... this is family history for these people,” said Bock. “The original exhibit at History Colorado did not sufficiently represent all this context, and all of the trauma and memory and feelings around this and from those tribal perspectives.”

The tribes asked History Colorado to shut down the original exhibit. But over the past ten years, the two sides have worked together to share stories directly from the perspective of descendants of the Sand Creek Massacre.

“This is the first exhibit about the Sand Creek Massacre that’s going to be told from the first-person perspective of the descendants of those affected,” said Bock.

“The Sand Creek Massacre: The Betrayal that Changed Cheyenne and Arapaho People Forever” opens at the History Colorado Center on November 19 at 10:30 a.m. There will be a private showing of the exhibit for families of descendants on November 18.

History Colorado has several other events taking place across Colorado to highlight Native American Heritage Month:

  • Gregg Deal’s Merciless Indian Savages | El Pueblo History Museum, in Pueblo, CO — November 11 to March 18, 2023.

    • Visitors to History Colorado’s El Pueblo Museum will have the opportunity to explore the works of nationally renowned artist Greg Deal (Pyramid Lake Paiute). In this exhibit, Deal uses his work to unveil political processes that detrimentally impact Native peoples, fights for a more inclusive future and explores the question, “What does American Democracy mean to someone who was insulted in its founding document?” By collecting works that confront the painful past, and using the words of Thomas Jefferson as his exhibit title, Deal explores how Indigenous peoples stay true to themselves while being part of a culture which has historically stereotyped and marginalized them.
  • Indigenous Film Festival | El Pueblo History Museum, in Pueblo, CO — November 13, from noon to 4 p.m.

    • The free event is open to the public and will feature two documentary screenings as well as a panel discussion. The two films being screened will explore the union of the Northern Arapaho Tribe and the City of Longmont as Sister Cities and the realities of Indigenous women who fight to vindicate and honor their missing and murdered relatives who have fallen victim to a growing epidemic across Indian country. The closing panel discussion will be on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives crisis and features Gina Lopez (Ute Mountain Ute), Monycka Snowbird (Anishinaabe) and Raven Payment (Kanien'kehá:ka/Anishinaabe).