By: Suzanne Pratt

The Sand Creek Massacre


Grade Level: 5th Grade


1. Students will be able to express their feelings about incidents that occurred during the Sand Creek Massacre in their journals.

2. Students will be able to compare incidents of the Sand Creek Massacre and modern day events and suggest ways to prevent other similar events in their journals.

Materials Needed:

1. Copies of excerpts from testimonies of Col. Chivington, Mr. John Smith, and selected soldiers as well as excerpts from noted historians about the Sand Creek Massacre (be sure excerpts are not too gory for the students)

Brown D. (1971). Bury my heart at wounded knee. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Ehrlich, A. (1993). Wounded knee: An Indian history of the American West. New York: Henry Holt and co.

Scott, B. (1994). Blood at Sand Creek: The massacre revisited. Caldwell, ID: Caxton Printers, Ltd.

2. Personal Journals

3. Picture of the Sand Creek area in Colorado as it looks today


1. Show students a picture of the Sand Creek, Colorado area as it appears today. (There is a good picture available on the website above.) Ask for responses of the picture. What do they see? Is what they see pleasant? Would they like to visit this place? Does it look like it is good for fishing? Tell the students that every place has a story that can be attached to it. Today we are going to talk about one of the stories that goes with the place in this picture.

2. Tell the students where the picture is located and have a student come and find the area on a map (located in the Colorado Springs area).

3. We have been talking about conflicts that deal with human rights. Ask students to think of examples of human rights conflicts that have already been discussed. Stories of human rights conflicts can be found throughout American history. Tell students the story of the events leading up to the Sand Creek Massacre after the signing of the treaty. (Treaty signed by Black Kettle and other Cheyenne chiefs but then broken, there had been lots of unrest and big problems with Roman Nose and the Dog Soldiers, lots of homesteads being pillaged and burned, soldiers and citizens getting mad.) Things have become a real mess.

4. We have this situation that seems to be at an impasse. Everyone is mad and no one wants to give. Ask students for suggestions of how to solve the problem. Write suggestions on the board. The goal for this is to get students to understand that there are no easy solutions for such a difficult situation. As students come up with ideas discuss ideas not only bringing up good aspects of the idea but also possible flaws and encourage students to build on those ideas. Also students may want to discuss possible bad solutions.

5. Tell students that now they are going to learn what happened as a result of all of these problems. Divide students into six groups. Students will jigsaw information of the Sand Creek Massacre.

a. Two groups will focus on testimonies and depositions given by various soldiers, Col. Chivington, and two army interpreters.

b. Two groups will focus on newspaper articles of the time written about the Sand Creek Massacre.

c. Two groups will focus on writings by noted historians.

Tell students that it is there job to deduce the story of the Sand Creek Massacre as accurately as possible from the information given. (Two groups will work each topic in order to allow students to work in smaller groups as well as to go through more information &endash; each group will have different readings.)

6. Draw a timeline on the board. Color-code each group type (historians, newspaper articles, depositions). In sequence of events, have students orally share what they learned (this should occur more as a discussion than a presentation -- each group should feel free to add something whenever they see fit). As this discussion takes place, have students come and fill in their parts of the time line including the events that they perceive to be important. Each group type should use their key color so students can visually see differences in points of view from the different sources.

7. Conclude the discussion by asking students to share how they feel about this story. What is their response to the differences in the stories of the different sources? Could the Sand Creek Massacre have been prevented? Ask students if they can think of any examples of similar events occurring recently. (Israeli/Palestinian conflict, eastern Europe, etc.) How can we prevent other such tragedies from occurring today? (Communication key, peace starts with each individual deciding they want peace and working from there, etc. also more involved things like Peace Corps &endash; the more educated people are, the less violent they generally tend to be.) What can we do personally and as a class to see that these ideas are implemented? (Vow to work toward community peace, fund raising for charity organizations.) Are we accomplishing anything by feeling guilty about things that happened in the past? (Students need to understand that we study history in order to make the future better not so they will feel guilty about things that happened hundreds of years before they were born.)

8. Show the students the picture of Sand Creek once again. What is their response to the picture (or the place) now? How do they feel about this place?

9. Have students write their responses to the Sand Creek Massacre in their journals. Ask them to also address the issue of similar modern day examples of the same sorts of tragedies and suggest ways that they may be able to help prevent other such tragedies from occurring in the future. (For ideas see examples on #7)


Evaluate by assessing the journal responses from #9. Check to make sure they have responded to the Sand Creek Massacre and have addressed the issue of similar modern day examples as well as ways that they may be able to help prevent other such tragedies from occurring in the future.