Letter: ‘Meeker Incident’ waters down history

Sometimes the words “politically correct” can mislead people. To be “politically correct” about calling the Meeker Massacre the Meeker Incident is a very good example. There have been suggestions in the paper that the people of Meeker should change the name. The writers with these suggestions quoted “someone” by saying, “When the Indians killed the white men it was called a massacre, but when white men killed Indians it was called a victory.” This statement is not true.
For the record: An incident occurred on Nov. 29, 1864, when Colorado Territorial Militia attacked and destroyed a village of Cheyenne and Arapaho encamped in southeastern plains; 400 old men, women and children were killed and mutilated by 700 militia men. Black Kettle had asked Colorado’s governor if they could camp at this place so their warriors could go hunt buffalo on the plains; leaving in camp everyone too old or too young to help with the hunt. The governor allowed them to do this and the Indians hung an American flag over the camp. Subsequently, Col. Chivington of the Colorado Militia and his men attack the camp and caused one of the most shameful actions in Colorado history.
My question to Harold Tymes and the other writers is this — If you change the name of the Meeker Massacre to the Meeker Incident, then do we call the episode at Sand Creek an incident? In my opinion, no; it was called the Sand Creek Massacre for good reason. There is no question that the Colorado Militia were absolutely evil, they did things that were beyond any understanding, but where do you draw the line? Just because the Utes weren’t as barbaric as the white men, does that excuse them from attacking, killing and ultimately molesting non-combatants? Chivington and his men were soldiers and they attacked and killed non-combatants; conversely Douglas and Johnson and their men were warriors and they attacked and killed non-combatants. Although, the damage to humans on both sides of the Meeker Massacre were significantly less (thank goodness), do you think the acts were any less devastating to the victims or the decendents of the men who did these things? Dr. Dave Steinman was right, any act such as these are horrifying and we make them meaningless when we trivialize them by changing the name to something more “acceptable.”
Please understand no blame should be placed on the children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren of the men who perpetrated these acts; their world was infinitely more violent than we can ever understand, but we cannot learn to behave in a more civilized way from “watered down” history.
Sandy Shimko
Meeker