The Sand Creek Massacre historical marker, located in front of the Civil War monument near the Colorado State Capitol, details one of the most controversial events in Colorado history. In essence, the Sand Creek Massacre was a massive atrocity during the American Indian Wars in 1864 that consisted of the killing and mutilation of between 70 and 163 Native American women, children, and elderly people by a 700-man force of Colorado Territory militia. Some civilians immediately denounced the attack, recognizing it as a massacre, while many others thought of the destruction of the peaceful villages of Cheyenne and Arapaho as legitimate targets in a war.
The Civil War monument was built in 1909 and funded by the Pioneers’ Association and the State to honor Colorado soldiers who fought in battles in the Civil War. However, as Sand Creek was considered a battle, it was listed on the monument, mischaracterizing the nature of the attack. The monument caused protests and, consequently, greater recognition of the Sand Creek Massacre.