Site in Sand Creek, Colorado, commemorating the massacre of more than 230 Native Americans by US soldiers in 1864.
The US government has said it will expand the size of a historic site commemorating the massacre of more than 230 Native Americans at Sand Creek, Colorado, by US soldiers in the 1860s.
In a ceremony Wednesday, US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced that the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site would acquire nearly 3,500 acres (1,400 hectares) of additional land.
“We will never forget the hundreds of lives that were brutally taken here – men, women and children killed in an unprovoked attack,” said Haaland, the first Native American to lead a US cabinet agency.
“Stories like the Sand Creek massacre are not easy to tell, but it is my duty, our duty, to make sure they are told. This story is part of American history.”
The announcement comes amid ongoing discussions about the legacy of racism, violence and historical memory in the US, as well as a push by Haaland to take action on issues of importance to Native Americans.
The massacre took place in November 1864, when US soldiers attacked a camp of about 750 Native Americans in what is now southeastern Colorado.
More than half of the more than 230 Native Americans killed in the attack were women and children, and some US soldiers took the body parts of the victims as trophies.
The site of the massacre was established as a historic site in 2007, and the land is considered sacred by the northern and southern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.
At the solemn event held to announce the expansion, Haaland was joined by representatives of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, as well as Colorado Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennett.
The Department of the Interior has said that the expansion would “increase public opportunities to experience and interpret the stories and history of the site”. Janet Frederick, superintendent of the site, also noted that the area has “significant archaeological remains” related to the massacre.
The expansion is the latest attempt to deal with the legacy of the attack. Senator Hickenlooper, previously the governor of Colorado, issued an apology on behalf of the state in 2014 on the 150th anniversary of the murders.
Max Bear, a Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, welcomed efforts to preserve history and provide an honest account of the violence and dispossession that the US enacted against Native Americans.
“We don’t want our children and grandchildren to fight an uphill battle to find out what happened to our people,” Bear was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. “In this time of book bans, I think it’s more important than ever that our story is told correctly.”
Haaland’s ascension to head the Department was hailed as a historic first, and during his tenure, the agency released a report documenting the history of Native American boarding schools that the US used to erase Native American identity and culture. Native Americans. The United States announced in May that at least 53 boarding school burial sites had been found.
Similar tragedies have occurred in Canada, which has also taken steps to address its history of violence against indigenous peoples, though advocates say much work remains to be done.
Visiting Canada in July, Pope Francis apologized for the “badness” of Canada’s Catholic residential schools, where indigenous people were forcibly assimilated in what the pope described as a “genocide” of native culture.
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