(taken with permission)
A miracle of forgiveness occurred in 1968, one century after Washita on November 27, 1868. Articles about it will be after each diary; that's the framework for this series of unknown duration. I have found several things that I believe need to be addressed in order to fully appreciate the miracle that happened in 1968. In general, these are: restating Black Kettle and the Sand Creek Massacre of Nov. 29th, 1864 (Part 2),clearing away untruths one by one surrounding Washita, exploring the power grid of the generals at that time, how the other Cheyenne and Arapaho viewed Black Kettle and how that was used against him, the fact Custer tracked 10 to 15 dog soldiers into Black Kettle's camp, Black Kettle's meetings for peace, the tragedy itself, and how that broke the Southern Cheyenne Arapaho as being formidable adversaries to the policy of extermination.
Black Kettle, a Peace Chief of the Cheyenne Arapaho , had a vision of peace with the whites.
What Black Kettle may have trusted were his own traditions. As a Peace Chief following pipe tradition, he would have been taught the four central tenets of faith, truth, humility and respect. Black Kettle is remembered as much for how he lived as how he died.
I personally believe the most significant part of it came true in 1968. The story needs to be told.
Washita is not officially named a massacre, which is one of the things that will be discussed. It is a source of controversy, but not from a descendant himself.
What followed was a massacre of the people from the pregnant Cheyenne women being cut open at the womb and babies left on the frozed ground dead with their mothers. Women, children and elders alike were shot down as at a turkey shoot.
Custer took 52 captives back to Camp Supply and they were later transfered to Ft. Hayes, Kansas, as prisoners of war.
Thus this needless massacre just four years almost to the date later from the Sand Creek Massacre and to the very same bands and families nearly wiped out this extended kinships of families that had survived the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864 in southeastern Colorado.
(Sipes Cheyenne Files- Lodge Pole River (Washita) Massacre)
Nor, from these individuals.
We, the undersigned, object to the site being termed a battlefield. Such an identification is an incorrect interpretation of the historical facts, resulting in misinformation. It is no more a battlefield than Auschwitz was a battlefield. Instead, we request that the site be designated the Washita National Historic Site of Genocide.
I do think that since much evidence that proves how several lies told by Custer were in fact lies as proven by Custer's own accounts as cited in Jerome A. Greene's new book "Washita," such as
blaming the Kansas Raids on Black Kettle -
Nor is there evidence to support the notion that Black Kettle was personally to blame for the events that precipitated the attack. p.186
- there is a need for those in my position (not being a descendant as far as I know) to refer to Washita as "Washita," and let history unfold.
I can personally testify that the information at the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site does not pull any punches in citing the facts. The people I met are goodhearted, well informed, and dedicated to the truth of this historic tragedy.
I feel a need to allow for space and debate without offering my opinion at present, but I may or may not do so in the future. I sincerely believe and feel that what needs to be front and center in the controversy is the miracle of forgiveness that I spoke of in the beginning. I'll fill in the key details in the future. I asked for permission to do so.
Approximately one Quarter mile from the Black Kettle's death at Washita.
Cheyenne story of massacre and reconciliation mesmerizes Bethel audience
One hundred years later, in 1968, Hart, his children and other Cheyenne living near the town of Cheyenne, Okla., took part in a centennial commemoration of the massacre, which white historians were calling "the last great battle between the U.S. Army and the Indians in Oklahoma Territory." The Cheyenne had reluctantly agreed to participate, on condition that they be permitted to bury the remains, on display in the local museum, of a Cheyenne child killed in the massacre.
The reenactment became too real when the Grandsons of the Seventh Cavalry, a group of men from California, joined the scene in authentic uniforms, shooting blank cartridges from authentic carbines and brandishing authentic sabers.
Hart described the deep feelings of hostility this incident drew out of him, not least because the Cheyenne had not been told the Grandsons were taking part in the reenactment and they felt they had been betrayed yet again.
However, the reburial of the child's remains proceeded. At the end of the ceremony, a gesture of reconciliation initiated by Cheyenne elders with Eric Gault, the commander of the Grandsons of the Seventh Cavalry, became deeply significant to Hart.
Although my own history was lost, any imagined resentment I felt towards Custer is now gone.