Saturday, November 29, 2014


From the New York Times:

Many people think of the Civil War and America’s Indian wars as distinct subjects, one following the other. But those who study the Sand Creek Massacre know different.

On Nov. 29, 1864, as Union armies fought through Virginia and Georgia, Col. John Chivington led some 700 cavalry troops in an unprovoked attack on peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho villagers at Sand Creek in Colorado. They murdered nearly 200 women, children and older men.

Sand Creek was one of many assaults on American Indians during the war, from Patrick Edward Connor’s massacre of Shoshone villagers along the Idaho-Utah border at Bear River on Jan. 29, 1863, to the forced removal and incarceration of thousands of Navajo people in 1864 known as the Long Walk.

In terms of sheer horror, few events matched Sand Creek. Pregnant women were murdered and scalped, genitalia were paraded as trophies, and scores of wanton acts of violence characterize the accounts of the few Army officers who dared to report them. Among them was Capt. Silas Soule, who had been with Black Kettle and Cheyenne leaders at the September peace negotiations with Gov. John Evans of Colorado, the region’s superintendent of Indians affairs (as well as a founder of both the University of Denver and Northwestern University). Soule publicly exposed Chivington’s actions and, in retribution, was later murdered in Denver
After news of the massacre spread, Evans and Chivington were forced to resign from their appointments. But neither faced criminal charges, and the government refused to compensate the victims or their families in any way. Indeed, Sand Creek was just one part of a campaign to take the Cheyenne’s once vast land holdings across the region. A territory that had hardly any white communities in 1850 had, by 1870, lost many Indians, who were pushed violently off the Great Plains by white settlers and the federal government.

These and other campaigns amounted to what is today called ethnic cleansing: an attempted eradication and dispossession of an entire indigenous population. Many scholars suggest that such violence conforms to other 20th-century categories of analysis, like settler colonial genocide and crimes against humanity.

Sand Creek, Bear River and the Long Walk remain important parts of the Civil War and of American history. But in our popular narrative, the Civil War obscures such campaigns against American Indians. In fact, the war made such violence possible: The paltry Union Army of 1858, before its wartime expansion, could not have attacked, let alone removed, the fortified Navajo communities in the Four Corners, while Southern secession gave a powerful impetus to expand American territory westward. Territorial leaders like Evans were given more resources and power to negotiate with, and fight against, powerful Western tribes like the Shoshone, Cheyenne, Lakota and Comanche. The violence of this time was fueled partly by the lust for power by civilian and military leaders desperate to obtain glory and wartime recognition.

Expansion continued after the war, powered by a revived American economy but also by a new spirit of national purpose, a sense that America, having suffered in the war, now had the right to conquer more peoples and territories.

The United States has yet to fully recognize the violent destruction wrought against indigenous peoples by the Civil War and the Union Army. Connor and Evans have cities, monuments and plaques in their honor, as well as two universities and even Colorado’s Mount Evans, home to the highest paved road in North America.

Saturday’s 150th anniversary will be commemorated many ways: The National Park Service’s Sand Creek Massacre Historic Site, the descendant Cheyenne and Arapaho communities, other Native American community members and their non-Native supporters will commemorate the massacre. An annual memorial run will trace the route of Chivington’s troops from Sand Creek to Denver, where an evening vigil will be held Dec. 2.

The University of Denver and Northwestern are also reckoning with this legacy, creating committees that have recognized Evans’s culpability. Like many academic institutions, both are deliberating how to expand Native American studies and student service programs. Yet the near-absence of Native American faculty members, administrators and courses reflects their continued failure to take more than partial steps.

While the government has made efforts to recognize individual atrocities, it has a long way to go toward recognizing how deeply the decades-long campaign of eradication ran, let alone recognizing how, in the face of such violence, Native American nations and their cultures have survived. Few Americans know of the violence of this time, let alone the subsequent violation of Indian treaties, of reservation boundaries and of Indian families by government actions, including the half-century of forced removal of Indian children to boarding schools.

One symbolic but necessary first step would be a National Day of Indigenous Remembrance and Survival, perhaps on Nov. 29, the anniversary of Sand Creek. Another would be commemorative memorials, not only in Denver and Evanston but in Washington, too. We commemorate “discovery” and “expansion” with Columbus Day and the Gateway arch, but nowhere is there national recognition of the people who suffered from those “achievements” — and have survived amid continuing cycles of colonialism.

Another informative essay by Allen Best from the Boulder Daily Camera:

On the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre, an effort is underway to scrub Colorado maps of the name Chivington. Longmont did so in 2004, replacing Chivington Drive with the cheerier name of Sunrise.

But there's still a Chivington in Colorado. Located near the massacre site 180 miles southeast of Denver, it consists of a handful of buildings, most of them losing steadily to the winds, the sun, and gravity itself. Even the post office was abandoned in the 1980s. The road sign looks sturdy enough, but a petition launched at by Victoria S. LeftHand of St. Louis would assign a new, undetermined name.

John Chivington, the namesake, lingers as one of Colorado's most perplexing, heartburn-inducing individuals. Arriving in the Colorado gold camps as a Methodist preacher, the stocky, 250-pound Chivington was an ardent abolitionist, believing fervently in the wrongness of human slavery. In New Mexico, at the Battle of La Glorietta Pass in 1862, he became a hero as leader of the Colorado militia that scuttled Texan Confederates who intended to gain control of the Rocky Mountain gold camps.

Conflicts with tribes of the Great Plains presented a more nuanced challenge. The Cheyenne and Arapahoe, new to the region themselves as of about 1820, led nomadic lives revolving around movement of bison herds and bloody skirmishes with other tribes, the Utes and the Pawnees. In contrast, they amiably accepted fur traders in places like Bent's Fort and Fort Lupton and, for a time, did so with the gold-seekers.

It's hard to pin down who flung the first stone. Perhaps conflict was inevitable as up to 100,000 people crisscrossed the Great Plains. A Sioux massacre of settlers in Minnesota heightened tensions. In Denver, ruffians raped Indian women. The U.S. Army set out to punish wrong-doers. Cheyenne and Arapahoe responded with revenge. By 1864, there was enough fear that settlers in Boulder had dug trenches. Display of the mutilated bodies of the Hungate family, massacred 40 miles east of Denver by a band of young Arapahoe men, put frontier camps even more on edge.

Fear abounded. So did hunger. Wagons hauling supplies were less secure, while Indians found their nomadic hunting constricted.

Chivington may have hoped that another major military victory would send him to Congress. What the historical record more clearly documents is that he had no patience for efforts to secure a peaceful outcome. As the top military commander in Colorado, he wanted to teach the Cheyenne and Arapahoe a lesson before the 100-day enlistments of many of his soldiers expired. For this he chose an easy target, what one of his subordinates later called the "only peaceful Indians in the country."

Col. John M. Chivington became Colorado’s most controversial villain after the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864.
Col. John M. Chivington became Colorado's most controversial villain after the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864. (historical / The Denver Post)
After an all-night, 40-mile march from Fort Lyon on the Arkansas River, the 700 cavalrymen attacked the lodges of Arapahoe and Cheyenne at dawn on Nov. 29, 1864. By one estimate, 150 Indians, including women and children, died that day. They had assembled at Sand Creek believing they had been assured safety through the winter.

Several people had led them to believe in a peaceful outcome. One was Edward "Ned" Wynkoop, who is remembered by Wynkoop Street in Denver's LoDo district. He was the first sheriff for Denver, a bit of a rowdy himself when young, but by 1864 an Army commander at Fort Lyon. While he harbored deep prejudice against the natives of the plains as "childlike," circumstance and courage had allowed him to glimpse their humanity.

Chief Little Robe’s family were among those at the Sand Creek Massacre. Little Robe’s father, also called Little Robe, was among the dead.
Chief Little Robe's family were among those at the Sand Creek Massacre. Little Robe's father, also called Little Robe, was among the dead. (Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Collection / The Denver Post)
Wynkoop led several of the Indians to Denver to talk with Chivington and territorial Gov. John Evans in September 1864. He had pledged safe harbor in southeast Colorado through the winter. Deemed entirely too conciliatory with the Indians by his military superior, he was reassigned to a post in Kansas.

John Evans is remembered across the Colorado landscape, with a mountain, a town, and an avenue in Denver, for starters. If his life was one of many good deeds, his leadership in the events leading up to Sand Creek was questionable. He saw punishment, not peace, as the only possible outcome, and was guided by fear, not understanding, tacitly allowing the injustice of Sand Creek to occur. Later, after the evidence was presented to Congress, he was replaced as governor.

Perhaps more damning, in September, the University of Denver — which Evans founded — released a scathing report that finds he created the conditions that led to the Sand Creek Massacre.

In Colorado Springs, we have a street and school, Irving Howbert Elementary, named for an early settler — and a Sand Creek soldier who steadfastly defended the attack as justified. In Trinidad we have Sopris Road, named after E.B. Sopris, also an unapologetic participant in the killing.

From southeast Colorado, we have Prowers County, named after local rancher John Wesley Prowers, who Chivington arrested as a precaution. He feared Prowers would alert the Indians to the militia's impending attack. They were probably right. His father-in-law, Long Bear, was a Cheyenne who was killed in the massacre.

Near the massacre site east of Eads, we have White Antelope Road, for a Cheyenne chief killed at Sand Creek. He had been to Washington D.C. the year before to meet with Abraham Lincoln. Another victim was Left Hand, whose name lingers in the creek that trickles from the foothills near Boulder. He was also called Niwot.

For the last two Novembers, I have traveled to Sand Creek, to feel the cold bite of dawn, to pinch the soil where this blood ran, to whiff the acrid scent of burning sage offered by the Cheyenne who return each year to remember. Last year, at the fairgrounds pavilion in Eads, I ate turkey provided all of us by local residents.

Sand Creek poses so many questions. Could American settlement occurred without these and the other grisly killings? What does it tell us about our wars today, our fears and hatreds? When revenge and punishment are the only answers, what does that gain us?

And how do you explain how individuals reacted differently? Chivington was an ardent abolitionist, and so was his one-time chief aide, Silas Soule, who in the run-up to the Civil War had conspired to free John Brown before his hanging at Harper's Ferry. But Soule objected strenuously against the impending attack of Sand Creek as unjustified, while Chivington called for blood to flow, be that of women and children.

Jeff C. Campbell, an independent historical investigator who lives near Sand Creek, says the difference was that Soule and Wynkoop, who had also tried to look for avenues to peace, had spent time with the Indians. Doing so was an epiphany, seeing them as people. "They understood them as human beings," he says.

Silas Soule died soon after Sand Creek. After testifying against Chivington, he was killed one night in April 1865 in Denver, possibly as retribution for his testimony. In 2012, a plaque was erected on the building at the corner of 15th and Arapahoe to designate the location of his death. He is buried in Riverside Cemetery, along the South Platte River.

Black Kettle was another would-be agent of peace. He had imperfectly tried to lead the Cheyenne whom he influenced to figure out a way to accommodate themselves to the vast changes underway on the Great Plains. At Sand Creek, as the cavalry prepared to attack, he had ran from his lodge and hoisted an American flag while assuring his followers that they would not be harmed. Somehow he survived Sand Creek and rescued his wife, who had been shot several times, but also survived.
Together, they died almost four years to the day later at an encampment along the Washita River in Oklahoma. Leading the attack was Gen. George Custer.

My own small proposal to effect healing involves remembering Silas Soule and Black Kettle. With our highway names, we remember Gerald Ford through Vail, Ronald Reagan through Colorado Springs, and the 10th Mountain Division from Minturn to Leadville.

 Might Colorado do something similar, but recognizing the agents of peace, putting the names of Black Kettle and Silas Soule on U.S. 287?

That highway passes near the massacre site and through Eads, continuing to Denver as Colfax Avenue. At Federal Boulevard it strikes north into Wyoming. Once in Wyoming, a portion of 287 is called the Sand Creek Massacre Memorial Trail on its way to the Wind River Reservation.

Waging peace is such a difficult process. That's the most vivid lesson that emerges from the atrocities and injustice of Sand Creek.

This essay appeared first in the Colorado Independent. Allen Best is a fourth-generation Coloradan who reports on water, energy and other issues in Colorado, the Great Plains and the Intermountain West. He blogs at

Friday, November 28, 2014


One of Boulder's gems is eTown.  You can read all about eTown at their "new and improved website"

"eTown is a place where music brings us all together and we work (and play) together to make things better.  eTown is also an independent radio program that seamlessly blends great live music from top musicians with conversation about the health and welfare of our communities. eTown has been on the air from coast to coast for more than two decades. The shows are recorded in front of a live audience, usually in eTown’s own solar powered theater, eTown Hall, in downtown Boulder, Colorado."

 eTown Hall on Spruce Street, about 12 blocks from our place

The eTown Venue - An Intimate 200 Seat Hall - Former Church!

Downstairs at the eTown Hall - A Nice Gathering Place

eTown Founders & Hosts - Nick and Helen Forster

" As eTown’s host, Nick nimbly walks the line between musician and radio journalist/host, playing guitar, mandolin or lap steel with world-class musical guests then switching gears to engage those artists in conversation live on stage.  As eTown’s co-host, Helen lends her golden-toned voice to both the spoken word and the musical portions of the show."

Last Monday evening, we spent a very pleasant two hours at eTown Hall with the Forsters and guests Over the Rhine and Max Gomez.

 Linford Detweiler & Karin Bergquist

You can read a lot on line about Over the Rhine, their 20+ albums, tours, etc., but one interesting tidbit is the Ohio-Menno background of Linford.  One of the songs they sang made reference to Holmes County, which is where Rhonda was born.  The opening verse:

My father’s body lies beneath the snow
High on a hill in Holmes County, Ohio
From there you can look out across the fields
A farmer guides his horses home as day to darkness bends
And finally yields

Only after the concert did we learn that our daughter is an Over the Rhine fan - here is one of her favorite songs:

A Session With Over The Rhine

The second guest performer was Max Gomez from Taos, and we very much enjoyed his music and his wry sense of humor. 

The 2-hour event will be edited down to a one hour program for radio that should be broadcast around mid-December - I highly recommend that you try to catch it on your local NPR station - the finale, with Over the Rhine, Max Gomez, the eChievement award winner, 15 year old Corinne Hindes, on flute, Nick and Helen, and the eTown House Band is particularly memorable.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Friends of ours, who shall remain anonymous and of unknown location, have an annual post-Halloween gathering to 'dispose' of the holiday pumpkins, carved or otherwise.  They have built a rather large trebuchet, as shown in the drawing below, and the celebration involves pumpkin flinging, fellowship and much food [and no adult beverages for obvious reasons].  After dark the pumpkins are replaced with gallon milk jugs filled with water and glow sticks - quite the show!  Below the drawing is a short video of a 200 foot pumpkin launch, and a close landing to the videographer!  Turn up the audio and click to view full screen since dusk was approaching on this particular launch.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


As might be expected, more songs have been written about Sunday than any other day of the week, although Monday, Monday is possibly the most recognizable song about a specific day.  Here is a link to a purported Top 10 Sunday Songs, and I am quite sure that not everyone would agree - but check it out and weigh in with your favorite song about Sunday.  Here are some more:

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Although the National Championship for the CU Men's Cross Country team will likely line the pockets of our already well heeled Athletic Director, the real honors go to the runners and to Coach Wetmore.  CU won with an amazing total of only 65 points, soundly defeating number 2 Stanford at 98 points - any total under 100 is generally considered excellent.  All five CU runners finished in the top 40, making them All Americans, with three of the five in the top 10!  I watched both the women's and the men's races [the CU women took 7th place] as well as the awards ceremony.  Kudos to all!!!!

Members of Colorado’s men’s cross country team hoist the championship trophy. 

From The Denver Post:
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Carrying their status as defending champion and heavy favorite not as a burden but with pride, the University of Colorado won the program's fifth NCAA men's cross country championship Saturday in dominant fashion.

On a windy day with strong gusts under leaden clouds and a damp course that left runners speckled with mud, Oregon's Edward Cheserek and Eric Jenkins went 1-2, but the Buffs put three in the top 10, led by junior Ammar Moussa in fifth. Sophomore Ben Saarel was seventh and senior Blake Theroux was ninth.

"It's no pressure to us, it's just business," Theroux said. "We're all veterans here. This is what we do every day. We train, we just have to do exactly what we've been doing and we're going to win. I trust these guys with my life. I'd take a bullet for them. I knew they were going to come out here and do it."

They may have approached their task in a businesslike manner, but when Moussa emerged from the finish area, a wave of emotion crossed his face and caught in his throat.

"Just blessed," he said, tears pooling in his eyes. "Really blessed."

Colorado finished with 65 points for the lowest (best) score of its men's titles. Runner-up Stanford finished with 98.

"We start training in June," said Theroux. "We train harder than anyone in this country. We're up in the Rocky Mountains, zero degrees, (running) 18 miles and we say, 'Screw this, we're going to go out there and win in Terre Haute.' That's just what it's all about. We've been talking about winning every single day since June 1. We talk about this day, we're going to come out here and kill it. That's what we did."

Moussa got a good luck text Friday night from Adam Goucher, who won the NCAA individual title in 1998 to lay the foundation for the elite program Wetmore has built. Moussa was touched to hear from him.

"I told him (Saturday) is just another chapter in the legacy he started," Moussa said. "We're not special, we're not different than anybody else, but we push each other every day. I do it for them, and I know we all feel the same way. We just care about each other."

This was Wetmore's first team to repeat, but his emotions were "half relief" and pride for his team.
"It's so hard to be the favorites, it's so hard to have the attention, it's so hard for nine or 10 21-year-old men to keep their egos in check and they really did it," Wetmore said. "That's the biggest feeling I have, pride, not for me but for them."

A month ago Wetmore said if CU won, it would be his best team. In recent days he's been more reluctant to say that.

"This is probably our best team ever," he said. "This is certainly the best third, fourth and fifth (runners) we've ever had. They're real good and they belong in the pantheon."

Saarel was the top Buff at NCAAs last season as a freshman, finishing eighth, but he battled nagging health issues this season. He ran strong Saturday.

"He's a very serious student, he's in a very hard arduous engineering program, he lives on four or five hours sleep," Wetmore said. "The other night he got seven and he said, 'I feel so much better.' I was encouraged for him this weekend, that he got his exams out of the way and was going to feel well."

Cross country teams tend to be extremely close because of the mutual suffering the sport entails, but that is especially true of this team fueled by the legacy Wetmore has built.

"It really is a team sport when you have the best team in the sport," Saarel said. "You do the best you can. Our coach stresses running your race, so I focused on trying to run my race. It's an amazing feeling to win, and it's privilege to run with these guys.

Thursday, November 20, 2014



I'm still here, but yet I'm gone
I don't play guitar or sing my songs
They never defined who I am
The man that loves you 'til the end

You're the last person I will love
You're the last face I will recall
And best of all, I'm not gonna miss you
Not gonna miss you

I'm never gonna hold you like I did
Or say I love you to the kids
You're never gonna see it in my eyes
It's not gonna hurt me when you cry

I'm never gonna know what you go through
All the things I say or do
All the hurt and all the pain
One thing selfishly remains

I'm not gonna miss you
I'm not gonna miss you

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


All of those four fingers raised by members of the CU Men's Cross Country Team signify their fourth straight PAC-12 Championship!  The success of Coach Mark Wetmore's teams over the years rivals that of the legendary John Wooden.  And for such outstanding accomplishments, the Boulder Daily Camera devoted a very short blurb with no pictures, no names, not much of anything - you will be reading a lot more here than in the local paper.  And an equally egregious irritation is the ridiculous amount of ink given to the CU Football team that is win less in the PAC-12, and with a grand total of 2 overall wins this season and no hope for another.

Here are some clips from the PAC-12 coverage of the Championship:

OAKLAND, Calif. – With all five of their scoring runners crossing the finish line in the top eight, the top-ranked COLORADO men captured their fourth-consecutive Pac-12 Men’s Cross Country title in Oakland on Friday morning at the Metropolitan Golf Links.

The defending NCAA and Pac-12 Champion Buffs scored 30 points to win the league crown. Colorado has been ranked the No. 1 team in the country all season, receiving all first-place votes each week. It is the first time since STANFORD won six in a row from 2000-05 a team has claimed four-straight league titles.

“I’ve been at this long time and we’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of good things happen to us,” said Colorado head coach Mark Wetmore said. “It feels great, but I always put it in big perspective and know that we have more work to do in the next couple of weeks … They had a great run and I'm really happy with them.”

The top-two individual men’s finishers were Ducks, with Eric Jenkins crossing in second place with a time of 23:34, behind Cheserek’s winning time of 23:23. The Cardinal’s Joe Rosa was third with a time of 23:37, and the next five runners were Buffs: Blake Theroux (4th, 23:42), Connor Winter (5th, 23:44), Ammar Moussa (6th, 23:49), Pierce Murphy (7th, 23:53) and Ben Saarel (8th, 23:54). Stanford’s Maxim Korolev (23:56) and Cal’s Chris Walden (23:57) rounded out the top 10, placing ninth and 10th, respectively.


1. Colorado 30
2. Oregon 57
3. Stanford 60
4. Washington 87
5. UCLA 168
6. Arizona State 182
7. California 189
8. Arizona 206
9. Washington State 224

1. Edward Cheserek, ORE 23:23
2. Eric Jenkins, ORE 23:34
3. Joe Rosa, STAN 23:37
4. Blake Theroux, COLO 23:42
5. Connor Winter, COLO 23:44
6. Ammar Moussa, COLO 23:49
7. Pierce Murphy, COLO 23:53
8. Ben Saarel, COLO 23:54
9. Maxim Korolev, STAN 23:56
10. Chris Walden, CAL 23:57

Sunday, November 09, 2014


I turned off the TV before half-time of Friday night's game versus Cleveland and LeBron.  The Nuggies were down by 20 and headed for another loss.  Admittedly the season is young, but I will bet dollars to donuts that the Nuggets will win even fewer games than they did last year.  Here is a major reason why: 

It's coach Brian Shaw telling Ty Lawson what to do - got it backwards in my opinion.  I have written previously about the woes of the Nuggets so won't repeat myself here because my views have not changed, particularly about the ownership.  Another prediction - Shaw will be gone before the end of the season.  I certainly hope that George Karl is enjoying some Schadenfreude.   

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

BILL VIELEHR 1945-2014
Among the lesser known facts about West Boulder is that Bill had his workshop and foundry behind the old Arapahoe Motors place on West Pearl Street.  We happened upon the place while walking the dog, and visited several times to see what new was going on.  We had the good fortune to chat with Bill just a few weeks before his untimely death.  A very nice article about Bill can be found here in Westword, so I will not repeat what has already been written.  Below are a few pictures of Bill's work which can be found around town and around the country.

Park Pieces


A typical wall hanging - some are quite large, 4 feet square

 Bill made the awards that were given out at the Boulder International Film Festival

 A typical day at his workshop

Godspeed Bill