RBC I The Rio Blanco County Historical Society will host the dedication of the Milk Creek Battlefield Park Saturday at 3 p.m., and the public is invited to the event.
The ceremony will take place at the Milk Creek Battlefield Park, located approximately 17 miles northeast of Meeker on County Road 15.
For the past 25 years, the RBCHS has been developing the memorial park, and the dedication is to commemorate the site of one of the last battles of the Indian wars.
The United States Cavalry crossed the boundary of the Ute Reservation with what could only be interpreted as hostile intent. The Utes, as a last resort, resisted the invasion of the military and held the troops in this location for five days with a minimal loss of life.
As a result, the Utes lost 16.5 million acres of their beloved Colorado lands and were banished to eastern Utah and a small reservation in southwestern Colorado.
For the Utes this was a tragic loss of their way of life, and it was also the fulfillment of the U.S. Government’s policy of Manifest Destiny.
The dedication of the park is not intended to justify or glory the Manifest Destiny of the white Europeans who came here after the battle in 1879, states a press release from the RBCHS.
“The purpose is to establish an honored place where people of all races can meet in peace, learn from each other and resolve differences,” said Meeker’s Joe Sullivan, who has led the development of the park.
“Before we can act, we need to understand and believe that understanding will inform the decisions we make for a better future for us all,” Sullivan said. “This is the best lesson we can learn from our shared history; there is honor in truth.”
The Utes have been invited to share their story at the dedication.
Their story is, according to Peter Decker, “A testimony to their superb survival strategies, astonishing staying power and immense courage of the tribe.”
There has been and continues to be a huge investment on the part of individuals and groups to the Milk Creek Battlefield Park.
Contributors have generously given more than $100,000 and hundreds of hours of work time to restoration of the site.
Speakers will include scholars Peter Decker, Bob Silbernagel and Mark Miller as well as Ellene Meece, president of the RBCHS, who will speak to the importance of community in building this tangible symbol of unity where there once was wide divisiveness.