Hunsucker Goodstein Announces Sand Creek Massacre Descendants File Suit for Promised Reparations

Sun Jul 14, 2013 6:00am EDT

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Hunsucker Goodstein Announces Sand Creek Massacre Descendants File Suit for Promised Reparations

“It’s time for the United States to make good on its promises under the Treaty,” said David Askman, attorney for the descendants. “It is unconscionable that the government has waited so long.”

Around sunrise on November 29, 1864, Colonel John Chivington ordered United States cavalry troops to attack peaceful bands of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes camped on the banks of Sand Creek, near Fort Lyon, Colorado. Though flying the American flag and a white flag of truce, hundreds of Native Americans, mostly the elderly, women, and children, were killed and mutilated.

Descendants of persons massacred by the United States Cavalry near Sand Creek, Colorado, filed suit today against the United States in the U.S. District Court in Denver, case number 1:13-cv-01836. The plaintiffs are each descendants of victims of the November 29, 1864 massacre. Through the suit, the descendants are seeking an accounting of monies the United States agreed to pay to survivors.

Both the United States Congress and the military initiated investigations of the massacre. In the 1865 Treaty of Little Arkansas, the United States recognized “the gross and wanton out-rages perpetrated” by the cavalry, and agreed to pay reparations to the surviving families of those “who suffered at Sand Creek.” The descendants have never been paid.

“It’s time for the United States to make good on its promises under the Treaty,” said David Askman, attorney for the descendants. “It is unconscionable that the government has waited so long.”

Homer Flute, a Sand Creek massacre descendant and Trustee of the Sand Creek Massacre Descendants Trust, welcomed the filing. “It has been nearly 150 years since our ancestors were deceived by a promise of peace and safety by flying the American flag and a white flag of truce in their camp at Sand Creek. Colonel Chivington, commanded the U.S. troops in the murder and mutilation of our ancestor. Most of those slaughtered were old men, women, and children who believed the promises of the government of the United States—a promise broken. Colorado territorial governor John Evans also served as ex officio superintendent of Indian affairs in Colorado, used his position to send special messengers to our ancestors, directing them to report to the nearest military fort with the promise of safety and protection. Another promise was made in the 1865 Treaty, and, like the first, has been broken. It is now time for the government to keep its word to the descendants. There are more than 15,000 descendants who have been identified at this time. They deserve the fulfillment of the broken promises.”

Mr. Askman, of the Hunsucker Goodstein firm in Denver, is representing the descendants with Larry Derryberry of Derryberry & Naifeh in Oklahoma City, and Jason Aamodt of the Environmental Trust Law Firm in Tulsa.

Hunsucker Goodstein PC
David Askman, 720-932-8126
DAskman@hgnlaw.com