John Evans and Sand Creek

It is often difficult to locate original documents for research. The Tutt Library at Colorado College has made many of it’s papers related to the Sand Creek Massacre available online.
          See an original letter written by Territorial Governor John Evans to Indian Agent S.G. Colley regarding Chief Black Kettle at this link:

          At this link you can read letters from Colley, Black Kettle, and Commisioner of Indian Affairs William P. Dole:

Too Many Indians

Honoring the 150th Anniversary of Colorado Territory (officially formed February 28, 1861), this series of posts offers a brief glimpse into Indian affairs during the terms of the seven territorial governors.

John Evans took over as Governor of Colorado Territory on May 17, 1862. He identified the parts of the territory claimed by various Indians in his October 30, 1862 letter to the Commisioner of Indian Affairs.
          By the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramiethe Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians claimed land that included “portions of the State of Kansas and Nebraska Territory [plus] all that part of the present Territory of Colorado north of the Arkansas river and east of the snowy range of the Rocky mountains.”
         The Kiowa and Comanche Indians occupied the territory “south of the Arkansas [River]and east of the snowy range.” Evans estimated there were about five thousand Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Kiowa and Comanche reporting to Agent S. G. Colley, who was based at Fort Lyon.
          Evans reported that “all that part of the Territory lying west of the great snowy range or Cordilleras is occupied by the various bands of the Utah [Ute] Indians. These Indians are reported to be about ten thousand strong, and are active, independent, and warlike. They have never been at war with the whites, and have little idea of the military prowess of the government, making the danger of hostilities by them more imminent.”
          “There are two bands of these Indians [Utahs or Utes] that go down into New Mexico to report to…agencies there…[B]ut by far the larger part of them obtain the goods which the government distributes for the purpose of securing their friendship from Lafayette Head…of the Conejos agencies.”
          Evans noted that Congress had approved an additional agency for the Green River and Uintah bands of Utes but no agent had been appointed and the agency was not in operation.
          In addition to urging the necessity of treaties with the Indians belonging to Colorado territory, Evans reported a new problem. “We have been troubled by the presence in Colorado, for a good part of the summer, of different bands of the Ogillullah and Brule Sioux Indians, belonging to the neighboring agency at Fort Laramie. They settle along the Platte river for the purpose of begging from, if not committing depredations upon, the great stream of travel to and from the settlements of Colorado.”

Note: Governor Evans misspelled the name of the Oglala Indians. 

Photo of John Evans courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Quoted text from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1862.

Lincoln’s Secretary in Colorado

John G. Nicolay on left with President Lincoln and John Hay taken November 8, 1863 by Alexander Gardner in his Washington studio. Image from the Library of Congress collection.

John G. Nicolay on left with President Lincoln and John Hay taken November 8, 1863 by Alexander Gardner in his Washington studio. Image from the Library of Congress collection.

President Abraham Lincoln sent his secretary, John G. Nicolay,  as his personal representative to the 1863 treaty council with the Utes at Conejos, Colorado Territory. Nicolay arrived in September and spent a month touring the Territory. He arrived at Conejos on  October 1, 1863 to lead the team of government representatives that included Territorial Governor John L. Evans, Dr. Michael Stech, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for New Mexico, plus Indian Agents Simeon Whiteley and Lafayette Head.
          Fifteen hundred Tabeguache Utes (Ouray’s band) turned out for the treaty council. Only three Mouache chiefs and one Capote chief attended. The Weeminuche and the northern Ute bands did not participate. A treaty was concluded on October 7, 1863. It was primarily an agreement with the estimated 4,000 Tabeguache Utes, who gave up their lands east of the Continental Divide.
          After the agreement was made, Nicolay presented silver peace medals bearing President Lincoln’s image to seven chiefs, including Ouray. These were men Nicolay counted as most cooperative.
          The treaty Nicolay negotiated was ratified, with amendments, by the U.S. Senate on March 25, 1864, and accepted by the Utes on October 8, 1864.

          Arnold Schwarzenegger was the voice of Lincoln’s Bavarian-born secretary, John G. Nicolay, in the 1992 ABC documentary Lincoln (Richard Zoglin, “Trying To Hype History,” TIME, December 28, 1992).
          Helen Nicolay wrote a biography of her father: Lincoln’s Secretary (Longmans, Green and Co. 1949; reprinted Greenwood Press, 1971).