Cherry Creek Encampment - St. Francis, Kansas
These iron sculptures by Tobe Zweygardt at the Cherry Creek Encampment, near St. Francis, Kansas, are in memory of the Cheyenne and other indians - survivors of the November 29, 1864 massacre at Sand Creek, Colorado - who fled to the the Cherry Creek Valley. The remained until joined by other plains tribes for an attack at Julesburg, Colorado on January 7, 1865.
The statues also acknowledge that in the Cherry Creek Valley, below, on April 25, 1887, Sam Ferguson and neighboring homesteaders shot and butchered the last known bull buffalo in the area.
The artist is a local historian and metal sculptor. He was born in Cheyenne County in 1916 and has a home on the west edge of St. Francis, Kansas where more of his work can be viewed.
Following the massacre of the Cheyenne Indians at Sand Creek on November 29, 1864, near the town of Chivington, Colorado, survivors made their way to a camp on the Smoky River.
The Cheyenne were so angry about the atrocities committed against their people that they sent around the war pipe at once. The pipe was taken to Spotted Tail and Pawnee Killer's Sioux, the Cheyenne Dog soldiers, and the Northern Arapahos. In response, all of these tribes moved and camped on Cherry Creek. It is written that nearly 3,000 Indians gathered here.
On New Years Day, 1865, the chiefs assembled in council
and decided to attack Old Julesburg on the South Platte.
On January 7, 1865, the Indians attacked. After their successful coup, they loaded the plunder on their horses and in three days were back in the Cherry Creek encampment.
The Cheyenne, who had been mourning the great loss of their people at Sand Creek, took heart when their warriors returned with the goods they desperately needed. The camp on Cherry Creek was a scene of great feasting. Scalp dances were held and the young people danced until sunrise.
Meanwhile, the chiefs again gathered in council and decided
to move north to the Black Hills to join the Northern Cheyenne, Sioux and
Arapahoe, and ask them to join in the war against the whites.
Cherry Creek Encampment near St. Francis is where the Plains War between the Indians and Whites began; a war that lasted twelve years and culminated at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in Montana in 1876.
On September 9, 1990, a dedication ceremony, in honor of the Cheyenne Indian survivors of the Sand Creek massacre, was held at this site. Descendants of those survivors, Cleo Wilson, son John Sipes and family participated in the dedication. Cleo cried as she looked on the site, remembering the sufferings of her people as was passed down through the oral history from her elders.
copyright 2007-2017 by Keith Stokes