Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage. These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as “unceasing,” “grudging,” and “vengeful destruction.”
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Every Thanksgiving weekend for the past 18 years, Arapaho and Cheyenne youth lead a 180-mile relay from the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site to Denver.
The annual Sand Creek Massacre Spiritual Healing Run opens at the site of the Sand Creek Massacre near Eads, Colorado, with a sunrise ceremony honoring some 200 Arapaho and Cheyenne people who lost their lives in the infamous massacre. This brutal assault was carried out by Colonel John Chivington on Nov. 29, 1864.
While the Sand Creek massacre has been the subject of Gentle Souls Women's Forella Platform Slip Slide Sandal B076V8KS88 8 M US|Silver, much less attention has been given to Fergalicious Women's Barley Ankle Boot B07B9WCVT1 12 B(M) US|Sand of this horrific event: U.S. soldiers Captain Silas Soule and Lt. Joseph Cramer.
These were men who rejected the violence and genocide inherent in the “conquest of the West.” They did so by personally refusing to take part in the murder of peaceful people, while ordering the men under their command to stand down. Their example breaks the conventional frontier narrative that has come to define the clash between Colonial settlers and Native peoples as one of civilization versus savagery.
This is a theme I’ve previously addressed as a scholar in the fields of SoftWalk Women's Rocklin Chelsea Boot B00S06QPP0 6.5 B(M) US|Black/Leopard and Colonial history, both in my book on the Indian captivity narrative genre, “Buried in Shades of Night,” and more recently in writings on Sand Creek.
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Soule’s noble act of compassion at Sand Creek is humbly conveyed in a John Deere Women's Wellington Boot B0014HVHUA 5.5 W US|Tan/Camo included in the Denver Public Library Western History Collections: “I was present at a Massacre of three hundred Indians mostly women and children… It was a horrable scene and I would not let my Company fire.”
Refusing to participate, Soule and the men of Company D of the First Colorado, along with Cramer of Company K, bore witness to the incomprehensible. Chivington’s attack soon descended into a frenzy of killing and mutilation, with soldiers taking scalps and other grisly trophies from the bodies of the dead. Soule was a devoted abolitionist and one dedicated to the rights of all people. He stayed true to his convictions in the face of insults and even a threat of hanging from Chivington the night before at Fort Lyon.
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The Cheyenne and Arapaho will return to Denver this year to honor their ancestors and remember Soule’s and Cramer’s conscience and humanity. This will be done through an offering of prayers and blessings, along with the performance of honor songs.
On the third and final day of the healing run, they will gather for a sunrise ceremony at Soule’s flower-adorned grave at Denver’s Riverside Cemetery. The participants will then continue on to 15th and Lawrence Street in downtown Denver. There, a plaque is mounted on the side of an office building at the place where Soule was murdered on April 23, 1865. His death, for which no one was ever brought to justice, occurred only two months after he testified against Chivington before the Army commission.
Over the last few decades, Soule’s grave and place of death have been transformed into sacred sites of remembrance within a violent and traumatic frontier past.
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This article is republished from Ferrini Men's Teju Lizard S-Toe Western Boot B00B9GN952 11 EE US|Black under a Creative Commons license. Read the Inov-8 Women's Trailtalon 235 (W) Trail Running Shoe B073VRBSZ4 7.5 M US|Black/Purple.
Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone, in your Eumenides hats, help us remember this story of courage and self sacrifice, and how difficult it can be to do the right thing.
The Furies and I will be back.
Cross posted to Care2 HERE.