A Remembrance at Fort Chambers

The story of Fort Chambers is not yet well known, but it holds great historic and cultural significance for the Arapaho and Cheyenne nations, for present-day residents of the Boulder Valley and of the state of Colorado, and for people of faith and Christians, in particular.

For generations Arapaho people, under leaders such as Nawath (Left Hand), maintained a winter camp in what is now Boulder, Colo. In the summer of 1864, after gold-seekers had flooded the region, white settler-recruits from the Boulder Valley responded to territorial governor John Evans’s call for “Indian Fighters” by joining Company D of the 3rd Colorado Cavalry. They mustered and trained at Fort Chambers near the site of Nawath’s traditional winter camp. Company D later joined other troops under the command of Christian minister-turned-soldier John Chivington. On Nov. 29, 1864, Chivington’s combined force massacred more than 230 Arapaho and Cheyenne women, children, elders and men who were camped peacefully along a bend of Sand Creek in eastern Colorado.

“A Remembrance at Fort Chambers” was born out of a conversation between friends and has become an annual event through communication with Sand Creek representatives from the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, the Northern Arapaho Tribe of Wyoming, and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana, and members of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks department, as well as partnerships with Right Relationship Boulder and local faith communities.

Both Remembrances to this point have been held virtually and lasted about two-hours. They have featured Arapaho and Cheyenne singers, storytellers and artists, a poetic reading from a descendant of Colorado territorial governor John Evans, historical reflections and a “liturgy of lament,” all centered on the site of Fort Chambers in Boulder, Colo.

See below for a recording of the 2021 Remembrance.

A plan is already in progress for a third Remembrance on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. Hopefully by then we’ll be past the pandemic and can meet in person! Please save the date and stay tuned.