Cherry Creek Encampment

Kansas Highway 27
St. Francis, Kansas

2 miles northwest of the intersection
of Highways K-27 and US-36

Direct questions to the St. Francis Area Chamber of Commerce: (785) 332-2961

Cheynne County Museum

Cherry Creek Encampment - St. Francis, Kansas
Native American sculptures at the Cherry Creek Encampment
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, Arapaho and other people who survived the November 29, 1864 massacre at Sand Creek, Colorado and fled to the the Cherry Creek Valley. They camped here until joined by other plains people 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 continued to work in town until his death in 2017.

Cherry Creek Encampment memorializes American Indians

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.
From Cherry Creek, they set out, nearly 1,000 strong, to seek revenge and plunder the town where the Stage Company had a large station.

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.
It was from this historical site on Cherry Creek that the runners were sent to notify the tribes that they were coming, and criers announced the plans in all camps.

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.

Sand Creek massacre victims names
One of 12 pages of the names of the survivors of the
Sand Creek massacre posted at Cherry Creek Encampment.

buffalo sculpture by Tobe Zweygardt

Cherry Creek Encampment guest book
Be sure to sign the visitor register and leave a card or other mark of your passing. Although it will take
a few minutes to view the site, it is worth the 2 mile drive off Highway 36 to stop briefly.

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