People of the Sacred Land
Uncovering the truth about Colorado history to create an equitable future for American Indians.
Who We Are
People of the Sacred Land (PSL) is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization comprised of Native leaders, elders, and concerned citizens who want to learn the truth about the dispossession of their land and why Native people in Colorado were forced from their homelands. How and why did the genocide happen? Who was responsible for the policies, treaties, and laws that harmed Indians? What can be done about the actions of the past, and what are the solutions to resolve the past? The People of the Sacred Land was formed when they began to learn about the lies and untold stories of the history of Colorado. They are seeking the truth, creating equity, education, restoration, and reconciliation for the past.
We acknowledge today that we are living on the land of Native American ancestors. In recent times the United States government legally recognized the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations as the owners of the land through the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. This land was occupied by at least 48 other nations in the last 500 years. We acknowledge that the Creator gave us this land along with the instructions that we are responsible for caring for the land, the water, the air, and all living beings. As we acknowledge the land we must also refute the colonized notion of manifest destiny. We will seek ongoing opportunities to engage Native people in land stewardship and restore justice to Native People.
PSL Supports Renaming Mount Evans to Mount Blue Sky
John Evans, the Territorial Governor and Superintendent of Indian affairs, was indicted but not convicted. Nonetheless, he was guilty of murder. Evan’s deliberately decided to ignore the illegal occupation of trespassers and squatters in Colorado and instead focused on eliminating Indians.
More than any other person involved in the Sand Creek Massacre, John Evans was personally responsible for the slaughter of the people at Sand Creek. He failed in his professional duties as the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Colorado. Evan’s deliberately rejected peace offerings from the Cheyenne and Arapaho, and the decision led to the Sand Creek Massacre. The Sand Creek Massacre was the most horrendous display of human savagery documented in the New World. In the book Massacre at Sand Creek, Gary Roberts wrote, “at Sand Creek, demonic forces seemed unloosed so completely that humanity itself was the casualty.” At the center of this slaughter, one man, John Evans, failed all humanity. He illegally declared war on all “hostile” (a questionable adjective) Indians. When not enough Indians were being slaughtered for legally defending their land, he released a second illegal proclamation calling on all citizens of Colorado to “kill hostile Indians” and take their property.
The mention of his iniquitous name should release blood memories of guilt in the minds of every American citizen living today. As honorable people, Americans have no reasonable reason to continue the lies and deceit that are inherently part of Colorado’s sordid history in dealing with American Indians.
-Rick Williams, PSL Executive Director
American Indian Lands in Colorado
Colorado recognizes 48 tribes as once-living within the state’s borders. Today only two tribes have reservation lands in the state: The Ute Mountain Ute and the Southern Ute Tribes. However, starting in 1851 nine tribes were forced into signing treaties that gave up their land in the Colorado Territory. These tribes include Ute Mountain Ute, Southern Ute, Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray, Northern and Southern Arapaho, Northern and Southern Cheyenne, Shoshone, and the Kiowa-Apache. People of the Sacred Land is working to uncover the truth about how treaty lands were stolen from these tribes, many of whom consider lands in Colorado to be unceeded.
Recognized Tribes in Colorado
Tribes with Treaty Lands
American Indian Reservations in Colorado
American Indians in Colorado experience economic and social inequalities at higher rates than other populations. People of the Sacred Land is working towards acknowledging historical truths that will inform recommendations for improved access to social mobility and quality of life for American Indians.
Clarissa Guy | March 16, 2022 | Rocky Mountain PBS
Rick Williams: The Iniquitous History of the Fort Wise Treaty of 1861 – Colorado’s Efforts Toward Reconciliation
Center for Great Plains Studies | March 16, 2022 | University of Nebraska
Elle Sullum | February 1, 2022 | 303 Magazine