Although our work spans across all US Native Lands, we are based in Fort Collins, Colorado and acknowledge, with respect, that the land we are on is the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute Nations and peoples. This was also a site of trade, gathering, and healing for numerous other Native tribes. We recognize the Indigenous peoples as original stewards of this land and all the relatives within in. We also acknowledge that the treaties from which these lands were ceded were negotiated unfairly, were repeatedly broken by the United States Government and the damages inflicted upon the Tribes has never been repaired.
Contested Land Cessions
Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 – Guaranteed the Cheyenne and Arapaho control over a 62 million acre territory spanning from From the Arkansas River in Colorado to the North Platte River in Wyoming and Nebraska.
Treaty of Fort Wise, February 18th, 1861 – After the US Government failed to prevent settlers from streaming across the 1851 Treaty Territory and several years of related warfare, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Signed the Treaty of Fort Wise. The treaty was rushed by the then Commissioner of Indian Affairs and was signed despite the protestations of Chief Black Kettle who argued it violated Cheyenne protocol which required all 44 Cheyenne Chiefs to be in agreement. In exchange for this vast land base, the tribes agreed to relocate to a 4 million acre reservation located along Sand Creek and the Arkansas River east of the present-day towns of Pueblo and Colorado Springs in exchange for the Government providing, among other things, housing, farm implements, livestock, schooling, and a $30,000 annuity payment for fifteen year (Article IV). The US Government never honored its obligations defined in the treaty and as a result nearly starved the Tribes to death, according to Major Scott Anthony in November 1863, “The Indians are all very destitute this season, and the government will be compelled to subsist them to a great extent, or allow them to starve to death, which would probably be the easier way of disposing of them.” As things got more desperate for their people, many of the warriors began raiding nearby communities and rumor began to spread about a large scale uprising.
Treaty lands defined in the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty (green), 1861 Treaty of Fort Wise (blue) and contemporary Reservation lands (red). Data from From Charles Royce, “Indian Land Cessions,” Bureau of American Ethnology. Eighteenth annual report … 1896-’97. pt. 2,T and the US Census Bureau.
Sand Creek Massacre, November 29th, 1864. Nearly 700 members of mostly the Colorado Calvary raided a peaceful village on the reservation at Sand Creek and killed at least 200 men, women and children. The massacre was investigated by the War Department and then Governor Evans was ordered by the President to resign. On December 15th, 2014 the Governor of Colorado finally issued a formal apology to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.
October 14th, 1865 – Little Arkansas Treaty. Cheyenne and Arapaho and US Government officials convened to formalize reparations for the Sand Creek Massacre and arrange the establishment of a new reservation in it what is now western Oklahoma. The Little Arkansas Treaty granted land to the heirs of individuals killed during the massacre and promised an annuity payment of $20 per capita until they are removed to the new reservation and $40 after they are removed for a and for a total period of 40 years. This treaty lasted only two years with the government failing to provide annuities, land or establish a reservation and which renewed conflict.
October 28th, 1867 – Medicine Lodge Treaty. The medicine lodge treaty was signed to quell conflict between Tribes and settlers. Contemporary investigations would attribute the conflict to “unrestrained settlers, miners, and army personnel as the chief instigators of Indian hostility,” The Treaty established a reservation in Kansas but the Tribes did not approve of the land so in 1869 they were granted a different reservation in what is now Oklahoma totally approximately 5,194,716 acres. The agreement also guaranteed there would be no further land cessions without signature of 3/4 majority of all adult males.
November, 1890 Agreement with the Cheyenne and Arapaho. The government was eager to open up Cheyenne and Arapaho lands to settlers. In July of 1890 they proposed a plan to a commission of chiefs and it was rejected. Not satisfied with the outcome government agents set out to collect signatures from Tribal members one-by-one. Despite repeated claims of fraud and bribery, by November 1890 the government announced it had enough signatures for the agreement to pass. As a results 4,608,878 (88%) of their lands were opened up to white settlement and received only $1.5 million dollars compensation. In 1951 the tribes submitted a claim to the Indian Claims Commission and it was decided that the lands were actually worth $23 million at the time and the tribes eventually settled for $15 million. Today the US Government serves as trustee of approximately 93,000 acres for the two Tribes.