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Calendar No. 464
105th Congress Report
2d Session 105-244
SAND CREEK MASSACRE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE PRESERVATION ACT OF 1998
July 11, 1998.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Murkowski, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 1695]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the bill (S. 1695) to establish the Sand Creek
Massacre Historic Site in the State of Colorado, having
considered the same, reports favorably thereon with an
amendment and an amendment to the title and recommends that the
bill, as amended, do pass.
The amendments are as follows:
1. Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in
lieu thereof the following:
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Sand Creek Massacre National
Historic Site Study Act of 1998''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
(a) Findings.--Congress finds that--
(1) on November 29, 1864, Colonel John M. Chivington led a
group of 700 armed soldiers to a peaceful Cheyenne village of
more than 100 lodges on the Big Sandy, also known as Sand
Creek, located within the Territory of Colorado, and in a running fight
that ranged several miles upstream along the Big Sandy, slaughtered
several hundred Indians in Chief Black Kettle's village, the majority
of whom were women and children;
(2) the incident was quickly recognized as a national
disgrace and investigated and condemned by 2 congressional
committees and a military commission;
(3) although the United States admitted guilt and reparations
were provided for in article VI of the Treaty of Little
Arkansas of October 14, 1865 (14 Stat. 703) between the United
States and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Indians, those
treaty obligations remain unfulfilled;
(4) land or near the site of the Sand Creek Massacre may be
available for purchase from a willing seller; and
(5) the site is of great significance to the Cheyenne and
Arapaho Indian descendants of those who lost their lives at the
incident at Sand Creek and to their tribes, and those
descendants and tribes deserve the right of open access to
visit the site and rights of cultural and historical observance
at the site.
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:
(1) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of
the Interior acting through the Director of the National Park
(2) Site.--The term ``site'' means the Sand Creek massacre
site described in section 2.
(3) Tribes.--The term ``Tribes'' means--
(A) the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe of Oklahoma;
(B) the Northern Cheyenne Tribe; and
(C) the Northern Arapaho Tribe.
SEC. 4. STUDY.
(a) In General.--Not later than 18 months after the date on which
funds are made available for the purpose, the Secretary, in
consultation with the Tribes and the State of Colorado, shall submit to
the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and the
Committee on Resources of the House of Representatives a resource study
of the site.
(b) Contents.--The study under subsection (a) shall--
(1) identify the location and extent of the massacre area and
the suitability and feasibility of designating the site as a
unit of the National Park System; and
(2) include cost estimates for any necessary acquisition,
development, operation and maintenance, and identification of
alternatives for the management, administration, and protection
of the area.
SEC. 5. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary
to carry out this Act.
2. Amend the title so as to read: ``A bill to authorize the
Secretary of Interior to study the suitability and feasibility
of designating the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site
in the State of Colorado as a unit of the National Park System,
and for other purposes.''.
purpose of the measure
The purpose of S. 1695, as ordered reported, is to
authorize the Secretary of the Interior to study the
suitability and feasibility of designating the Sand Creek
Massacre National Historic Site in the State of Colorado as a
unit of the National Park System.
background and need
On November 29, 1864, approximately 450 Southern Cheyenne
following Black Kettle, and 40 Southern Arapahos under Left
Hand, camped at Sand Creek, Colorado. At dawn, Colonel John M.
Chivington's Colorado volunteers, along with 125 regular army
troops, attacked the unsuspecting villagers. These Plains
Indians thought themselves under U.S. Army protection, but the
deaths of over 200 Indians, and the horrible mutilation of many
of their bodies, proved otherwise. Chief Black Kettle raised an
American flag before his tent to indicate the peaceful nature
of the camp, and Cheyenne Peace Chief White Antelope stood with
his arms folded in a peaceful gesture as the troops advanced.
The soldiers slaughtered the defenseless Indians in a most
brutal manner, killing men, women, and children
indiscriminately. Black Kettle and others escaped but many
died, including White Antelope, in the Sand Creek Massacre.
Recently, researchers from the Colorado Historical Society
(Society) conducted a search of two sites in Kiowa County but
were unable to locate evidence to confirm either site as the
exact location of the massacre. The Society's search results in
Kiowa County were inconclusive, but did not completely
eliminate these sites from consideration. Historical records of
troop movements indicate additional potential sites exist in
Cheyenne, Prowers, or Bent Counties. The Society proposes
additional research in order to accurately identify the actual
site of the Sand Creek Massacre.
S. 1695 was introduced by Senator Campbell and Senator
Hutchison on March 2, 1998 and referred to the Committee on
Energy and Natural Resources. Since the bill's introduction,
Senator Allard and Senator Thomas have been added as
cosponsors. The Subcommittee on National Parks, Historic
Preservation, and Recreation held a hearing on S. 1695 on March
At its business meeting on June 24, 1998, the Committee on
Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 1695, as amended,
committee recommendation and tabulation of votes
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open
business session on June 24, 1998, by a unanimous vote of a
quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 1695 if
amended as described herein. The rollcall vote on reporting the
measure was 20 yeas, 0 nays, as follows:
Mr. Domenici \1\
Mr. Nickles \1\
Mr. Kyl \1\
Mr. Bumpers \1\
Mr. Bingaman \1\
Mr. Akaka \1\
Mr. Graham \1\
Mr. Wyden \1\
\1\ Indicates voted by proxy.
During the consideration of S. 1695, the Committee adopted
an amendment in the nature of a substitute, which authorizes a
resource study to identify the location of the massacre and to
determine the suitability and eligibility of the site for
inclusion in the National Park System.
Specifically, the amendment directs the Secretary of the
Interior, in consultation with the Tribes and the State of
Colorado, to complete this study within 18 months after
receiving appropriations. The study will include cost estimates
for land acquisition, development, and operation of the site.
The study will also identify a variety of alternatives for the
administration and management of the site.
The title of the bill was amended to reflect the provisions
of the amendment in the nature of a substitute.
Section 1 designates the short title as the ``Sand Creek
Massacre National Historic Site Study Act of 1998''.
Section 2 provides Congressional findings for the bill. The
findings are: (1) Colonel John M. Chivington led a group of 700
armed soldiers who slaughtered several hundred Indians, the
majority of whom were women and children; (2) the incident was
quickly recognized as a national disgrace and was investigated
and condemned by 2 congressional committees and a military
commission; (3) the treaty of Little Arkansas in 1865 provided
for reparations and other obligations to the Indians that were
never fulfilled; (4) land at or near the site may be available
for purchase from a willing seller; and (5) the site is of
great significance to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians who
deserve the right of open access to the site.
Section 3 defines certain key terms in the Act.
Section 4 directs the Secretary of the Interior to complete
the study, in consultation with the Tribes and the State of
Colorado, within 180 days on which funds are made available.
The study will identify the exact location and determine
suitability and feasibility of the site as a unit of the
National Park System. Acquisition, development, and operation
costs along with management alternatives shall be included in
Section 5 authorizes the appropriation of such sums as may
be necessary to carry out this Act.
cost and budgetary considerations
The following estimate of this measure has been provided by
the Congressional Budget Office:
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, July 9, 1998.
Hon. Frank H. Murkowski,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Senate,
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 1695, the Sand Creek
Massacre National Historic Site Preservation Act of 1998.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Deborah Reis.
James L. Blum
(For June E. O'Neill, Director).
CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE
S. 1695--Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site Preservation Act of
CBO estimates that implementing S. 1695 would cost the
federal government about $200,000 over the next 18 months,
assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts. The bill would
not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-
go procedures would not apply. S. 1695 contains no
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates and would impose
no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
S. 1695 would direct the National Park Service (NPS) to
conduct a resource study of the Sand Creek massacre site in
Colorado. The study, which would be carried out in consultation
with the state of Colorado and local tribal governments, would
help NPS to locate the exact site of the massacre and to
evaluate the suitability and feasibility of designating it as a
unit of the National Park System.
Based on information provided by NPS and assuming
appropriation of the necessary sums, we estimate that the
agency would spend about $200,000 over the next two fiscal
years to complete the study required by the bill.
The CBO staff contact is Deborah Reis. This estimate was
approved by Paul N. Van de Water, Assistant Director for Budget
regulatory impact evaluation
In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in
carrying out S. 1695. The bill is not a regulatory measure in
the sense of imposing Government-established standards of
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals
No personal information would be collected in administering
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal
Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from
enactment of S. 1695, as ordered reported.
On April 30, 1998, the Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources requested legislative reports from the Department of
the Interior and the Office of Management and Budget setting
forth Executive agency recommendations on S. 1695. These
reports had not been received at the time the report on S. 1695
was filed. When these reports became available, the Chairman
will request that they be printed in the Congressional Record
for the advice of the Senate. The testimony of the Department
of the Interior at the Subcommittee hearing follows:
Statement by Katherine H. Stevenson, Associate Director, Cultural
Resource Stewardship and Partnerships, National Park Service,
Department of the Interior
Mr. Chairman, it is my pleasure to appear before you today
to provide the Department of the Interior's views on S. 1695, a
bill to create the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site
in the State of Colorado.
The goal of this legislation is extremely worthy, and we
congratulate Senator Campbell for his leadership in advancing
this bill, and the subcommittee for holding these hearings.
However, we do have some concerns and recommend that S. 1695 be
amended to require the National Park Service to conduct a study
before designation to confirm the exact location of the Sand
Creek Massacre, and determine if the site is feasible and
suitable for designation as a National Historic Site.
The bill would provide for preservation and interpretation
by the National Park Service of the site where, on November 29,
1864, the village of Cheyenne Peace Chief Black Kettle was
attacked by the Third Colorado Volunteers. This group of 100-
day militia led by Colonel John Chivington went beyond anything
required by military necessity; first in attacking a village
whose principal chief assiduously sought peace and believed he
was under the protection of the military, and second in the
wanton killing of innocent people, including many children.
History has generally judged Chivington not as victor in a
battle but as perpetrator of a massacre. The effects continue
today, especially in the memories of the descendants of the
The Sand Creek Massacre remains a matter of great
historical, cultural, and spiritual importance to the Cheyenne
and Arapaho Tribes and both Congress and the Executive Branch
recognize the importance of working with Indian tribes on a
basis of government-to-government relations concerning such
matters. The National Park Service works with Indian tribes on
a basis of government-to-government in matters affecting their
interests and we would work closely with the Cheyenne and
Arapho tribal governments as we proceed in this matter.
History continues to shape the present day in the lessons
we learn by studying, reading, visiting museums, and seeing the
actual places where historical events took place. In modern
times, our country has used history to inspire patriotism and
to motivate people in the national interest. Additionally, we
have used it to learn the mistakes of the past that must be
corrected in the present and avoided in the future.
It is within this context that we believe the Sand Creek
Massacre Site is nationally significant. Indeed the National
Park Service has considered designation of the site as a
National Historic Landmark. If the location can be ascertained,
and if the site is well preserved and suitable and feasible for
designation as a National Historic Site, we would be pleased to
recommend its addition to the National Park System.
S. 1695 focuses upon a location in Kiowa County with a
willing seller. We assume this refers to the land commonly
known as the Dawson property. A historic marker pertaining to
the massacre has been placed there and the area has been open
sometimes to the public, but is now closed and barricaded.
Unfortunately, previous National Park Service reviews and a
rather extensive study led by the Colorado Historical Society
have not produced convincing evidence that the Dawson property
is the actual location of the event. A 1997 archaeological
survey yielded only five artifacts that might have been used by
the militia or the Indian people at that time. None was
ordnance. It is well known that artillery was used by the
Colorado Volunteers, and it is virtually inconceivable that
substantial amounts of shot, shrapnel, and other material do
not remain at the actual location.
It is possible that geomorphological changes, such as silt
deposited by water and wind, might have buried the
archaeological evidence deeply enough to prevent detection by
the metal detectors used in the survey. It is also possible
that the massacre occurred on some other site not far away. At
least one other location resembling the topography of the
massacre site as described in historical documents is known to
exist. It has not been surveyed in a manner that could confirm
or deny it as the correct location. Archaeologists involved in
the 1997 study believe that more intensive efforts at both the
Dawson property and at other potential sites will definitely
locate the site of the massacre.
Funding for the National Historic Site would be subject to
budgeting constraints and NPS priorities.
Mr. Chairman, Americans often follow Abraham Lincoln's lead
in calling their historic places ``hallowed ground.'' This is
especially true of places where people have given their lives.
The victims of a massacre are at least as worthy of respect as
those who died in battles. Such sites function best when they
invoke reverence and quietude, where visitors learn not merely
from exhibits, films, and interpreters, but when the history
that resides in the actual place--the spiritual qualities--
speak directly to the heart of each visitor. To commemorate the
event on the wrong spot would dishonor the victims, distort the
history, and deceive the visitor. Nothing about your
consideration of this legislation could be more important than
to make certain we have the correct location.
We believe it is worth the effort to find the place in
which the history resides. Consequently, we recommend that the
legislation authorize the National Park Service, together with
other appropriate partners, to conduct an intensive study of
archives, oral histories of the Cheyenne Tribe, the Arapaho
Tribe, and others, and archaeological resources in order to
determine the correct location. The Dawson property needs more
intensive investigation to determine whether it might be the
correct site, but buried under sand. Other nearby properties
need equally intensive investigation. The cooperation of
landowners will be very important, and it is hoped they will
welcome this worthy effort. A complete study would not only
confirm the location of the massacre, but would identify
appropriate boundaries of the site, evaluate management
alternatives that might involve cooperation with landowners and
the tribes, provide cost estimates for acquisition and
operations, and assure that the proposal meets all established
NPS criteria for inclusion in the National Park System. Until
such a study is completed we cannot be confident that creation
of the National Historic Site administered by the National Park
Service is the best way to assure appropriate commemoration of
this important story.
From familiarity with Dawson property and its vicinity we
can say that the countryside in general is not drastically
changed from its 1864 appearance, and there is reason for
optimism that when the correct location is ascertained, it may
be preserved well enough to meet National Park System criteria.
Mr. Chairman, we are willing to work with you, Senator
Campbell, and members of the subcommittee to amend S. 1695.
This concludes my testimony. I would be happy to answer any
questions you may have.
changes in existing law
In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no
changes in existing law are made by S. 1695, as ordered