Tenth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Sand Creek Massacre Trust Claims

Here is the opinion in Flute v. United States.

An excerpt:

This case arises out of an ignominious event in the history of this Nation. In 1864, the United States Army conducted an unprovoked attack on a group of unarmed Indians, who had relocated to an area next to the Sand Creek River in the Territory of Colorado at the direction and under the protection of the Territorial Governor. When what has become known as the Sand Creek Massacre was over, most of the Indians were dead, including many women and children. After an investigation, the United States publicly acknowledged its role in the tragedy and agreed to pay reparations to certain survivors of the massacre. But those reparations were never paid.

Plaintiffs are descendants of the victims of the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre and bring this action for an accounting of the amounts they allege the U.S. government holds in trust for payment of reparations to their ancestors. Because the United States has not waived its sovereign immunity, we affirm the district court’s dismissal of such for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Briefs here.

150th Anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre — State and Tribal Collaboration Announced

State of Colorado, tribes announce collaborative effort around 150th anniversary of Sand Creek Massacre


DENVER — Monday, March 17, 2014 — Gov. John Hickenlooper announced two major efforts today regarding the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre.

The first is a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the State of Colorado and History Colorado with the Northern Cheyenne of Montana, the Northern Arapaho of Wyoming and the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma to create a government-to-government agreement that demonstrates a commitment between the State and the Tribes to educate the public about the Cheyenne and Arapaho people and culture and the history of the Sand Creek Massacre.

Hickenlooper also announced a new Sand Creek Massacre Commemoration Commission, which was created by Executive Order. The commission will be co-chaired by Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and include tribal, federal, state and local governments, historians, scholars, religious leaders, and institutions of higher education, to work together to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre.

“The MOA and the joint commission create an avenue for statewide collaboration, communication and coordination to educate the public about the Cheyenne and Arapaho people and the history of the Sand Creek Massacre,” Hickenlooper said. “Both will serve to strengthen our ongoing relationship with the tribes, honor their history, celebrate their culture and most importantly prevent horrific acts such as these from ever occurring again.”

The Commission will coordinate activities and events that commemorate the 150-year anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre on Nov. 29, 1864.

The MOA is the outcome of consultations between History Colorado and the Tribes to address concerns about the History Colorado Center’s Sand Creek Massacre exhibit, as well as to develop a plan for future relations. Consultations about the exhibit continue with History Colorado, the Tribes, the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs and the National Park Service Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site.

Remember Sand Creek

From the government website:

On November 29, 1864, soldiers from the US military attacked a peaceful encampment of Cheyenne and Arapaho along Sand Creek. Over 150 Indians were killed in the attack, most of whom were women, children, or elderly. The location of the Sand Creek Massacre site was obscured through time even to descendents of massacre survivors. The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site Study Act of 1998 directed the National Park Service to identify the location the massacre area and evaluate the suitability designating the site as a national park unit.

Family stories from Cheyenne and Arapaho about the massacre were used to help identify the location of the massacre site. Tribes had the opportunity to conduct their own “oral histories.” The tribal investigations were conducted by descendents of massacre survivors and tribal leaders. Historians also searched archives for the story of Sand Creek in maps, diaries, testimonies from soldiers and Indians, newspaper articles, homestead records, military scouting reports, and historic photos.