Finding the place of the Sand Creek Massacre

Dec 2, 2014

Two flags at the Sand Creek Massacre National Historical Site.
Credit National Park Service

The 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre passed recently and the use of the term “massacre” has carried great significance and stirred continued debate across the years.  It also played into the planning and naming of the current memorial on Colorado’s eastern plains as "The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site."  That story is told in historian Ari Kelman’s 2013 book “A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek” published by the Harvard University Press.  The title itself indicates part of this complex story, as determining the actual site the massacre was one of the first tasks in creating the National Historic Site.

Credit Harvard University Press

In the book, Kelman explains how an “A team” of researchers went about finding the site and how many perspectives were brought into the process of developing, interpreting and naming the memorial, including using the word “massacre” for the time in the official name of a federally recognized historic site.  It’s a book about both locating the geographic site and placing the event into historical memory.

He shares stories from the book and from writing the book in an extended interview with Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio.


An painting of the Sand Creek Massacre by Robert Lindneaux.
Credit Colorado Historical Society