Harvey Pratt is currently in the process of creating the Sand Creek Massacre Memorial. He is an accomplished master Native American Indian artist of both Cheyenne and Arapaho descent. Pratt spoke to us about his personal connection with the Sand Creek Massacre and the need to bring history to light in a public setting.
“If they have a memorial here [at the Colorado State Capitol], people will see it, understand it, and know it better,” said Pratt. “We just want to bring history to light. We want people to understand that there is more that happened than what was told.”
Pratt has won numerous awards and was named the Red Earth 2005 Honored One. He has been recognized as an Outstanding Southern Cheyenne and is a Southern Cheyenne Peace Chief, one of the highest honors bestowed by the tribe.
The Northern Arapaho, Northern Cheyenne, and Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, in partnership with the One Earth Future foundation, have launched Remember Sand Creek – a campaign to create a permanent memorial at the Colorado State Capitol honoring the victims of the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Remember Sand Creek supporter, said “there needs to be a permanent memorial to the victims of the Sand Creek Massacre at the Colorado State Capitol, not only to tell the story to the public, but also to remind future generations of Colorado lawmakers of the pain caused by broken promises and racially-motivated violence that still affect the Cheyenne and Arapaho people to this day.”
The memorial’s design aims to remind the 250,000 annual visitors to the State Capitol not only that the Sand Creek Massacre took place but that it continues to reverberate throughout the Cheyenne and Arapaho communities.
“I think it’s important that the people of Denver and the people of Colorado understand the history of what really happened and the emotions of the Native American people that are involved as ancestors,” noted Cheyenne and Arapaho artist Harvey Pratt, who was chosen by the tribal representatives to design and create the memorial. “We just want to bring history to light. We want people to understand that there was more that happened than what was told.”
“As the saying goes, ‘those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,’” said Marcel Arsenault, whose foundation is funding half of the total cost of the memorial. “Colorado’s willingness to come to terms with its past is enormously hopeful, since acknowledging our mistakes is the only way to overcome them.”
A fundraising effort is underway at RememberSandCreek.org. Visitors can contribute any amount to be matched, purchase a signed photograph of the memorial, or buy a ticket to a fundraiser at the Governor’s Mansion on December 1, from 5:30 – 7:30p.m.
The final design of the memorial is subject to the approval of the Capitol Building Advisory Committee, which will review the application on November 20.