February 21, 2013

Northwestern founder oversaw Sand Creek massacre

Northwestern to probe founder's link to Indian massacre

Committee of professors to investigate John Evans and the 1864 Sand Creek killings

By Rex W. Huppke
Responding to pressure from a student alliance, Northwestern University has established a committee to investigate the history of John Evans, a university founder connected to one of the worst massacres of Native Americans in the country's history.

The committee will consist of four Northwestern faculty members and three additional professors hailing from Yale University, the University of Illinois and the University of Arkansas.

John Evans—the namesake of the city of Evanston—was territorial governor of Colorado in 1864 when a militia of about 700 men attacked a temporary village of Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho people at Sand Creek. According to the National Park Service, the soldiers killed 165 to 200 Native Americans, about two-thirds of them women, children and elderly.

Known as the Sand Creek Massacre, it is considered one of the worst acts of genocide in U.S. history and led to Evans' removal from his governorship after a congressional investigation.

According to the Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance at Northwestern, the university has ignored that part of Evans' history. Evans continued as a major benefactor and member of Northwestern's board long after details of the massacre came to light.
The details on Evans's role:

John EvansU.S. President Abraham Lincoln appointed John Evans the second Governor of the Territory of Colorado on March 31, 1862. Governor Evans and his good friend the Reverend John Chivington founded the Territory's first college, the Colorado Seminary, which later became the University of Denver. In 1864 Governor Evans appointed the Reverend Chivington as Colonel of the Colorado Volunteers and sent him with 800 cavalry troopers to "quiet" the Indians. Chivington and his men knew of the unarmed band of Cheyenne and Arapaho led by Black Kettle, seeking peace talks, camped along Sand Creek in the east central part of the Territory. On November 28, 1864, Colonel Chivington ordered his men to attack the encampment killing about 53 unarmed men and 110 women and children and wounding many more. Most of the dead were mutilated. Governor Evans decorated Chivington and his men for their "valor in subduing the savages" and fought off rumors of an unprovoked massacre. On July 18, 1865, new President Andrew Johnson asked Governor Evans to resign because of his attempt to cover up the Sand Creek Massacre. Evans resigned as Governor, but he remained popular in the Colorado Territory for his perceived toughness in dealing with the "enemies" of the Territory. Dr. Evans continued to serve as the Chairman of the Denver Seminary Board of Trustees until his death on July 2, 1897.Comment:  I don't think anyone is saying to scrub Evans from Northwestern's history. But his role in killing Indians should be part of the story. Northwestern's official history shouldn't just ignore it.

For more on massacres of Indians, see Wounded Knee Seller Should Be Ashamed and Montana Rejects Winchester as State Rifle.

1 comment:

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:


In Focus: Students demand Native American studies, recognition of Evans' role in Sand Creek Massacre

Northwestern did not celebrate “Founders’ Day” this year.

Instead, officials called NU’s 162nd anniversary a “birthday,” in an attempt to appease a group of students who associate the school’s founding with a much more violent moment in American history: the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre.

Whether the tragedy is directly part of NU’s history, however, remains in dispute.

The Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance, is pushing for the University to acknowledge NU founder John Evans’ role in the massacre. Considered one of the most brutal Native American genocides in U.S. history, the attack by federal soldiers resulted in the slaughter of more than 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho people.