The University of Denver released a 109-page report on Nov. 1, concluding founder John Evans was highly culpable for the Sand Creek Massacre due to his missteps in leadership and negligence towards treaty negotiations. The report was issued in response to Northwestern’s academic investigation of Evans’s involvement with the massacre.
The DU report offers a different conclusion than that of Northwestern, which released their findings in May. After a year of research and investigations, Northwestern claimed that “no known evidence indicates that John Evans helped plan the Sand Creek Massacre or had any knowledge of it in advance.”
Northwestern concluded Evans did not benefit financially or politically from the incident and was not affiliated with the massacre, stating that Evans “always described military action even against legitimately dangerous bands as a matter of ‘punishing’ them in order to make them agree to peace on American terms, not as an end in itself,” according to the report.
As the first president of the Board of Trustees, Evans helped found Northwestern University in 1851 and later the University of Denver after being appointed as the territorial governor of Colorado in 1864. While governor, the Colorado militia under the leadership of Colonel John Chivington killed around 150 Cheyenne and Arapahoe people in the Sand Creek Massacre.
The following actions by the University of Denver and Northwestern University occurred in response to a petition written by the Native American and Indigenous Student Association or NAISA in 2013. Along with an investigative committee who released the original report, a task force is working on offering advice on how the University should act based on the findings.
And in celebration of Native American heritage month as well as commemoration of the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre, NAISA hosted a fundraiser and a collective poetry reading of “From Sand Creek,” by Simon Ortiz in Cosi on Nov. 5.