Today’s sermon at National Cathedral was delivered by Reverend William J. Barber II, a minister and political activist (Co-Chair, Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival and President and Senior Lecturer, Repairers of the Breach). He obviously is not Episcopalian as the sermon lasted well over 15 minutes… His text was The Message Bible‘s version of Amos 5:24.
Do you know what I want? I want justice – oceans of it. I want fairness – rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want.
He then pointed out just how foreign the concepts of justice and fairness are to white Americans, beginning with our genocide of America’s first peoples, slavery, blaming pandemics on this or that immigrant group, and finally the 8 minutes and 46 seconds of George Floyd’s agonizing death on May 25, 2020 CE. As he recited his litany of horrors, he quickly mentioned a Civil War hero who went on to massacre Cheyenne and Arapaho in 1864, mostly women and children and the elderly. On their own reservation. Colonel John Milton Chivington. From triumph at Glorieta Pass in 1862 to carrying off scalps and genitalia of mutilated dead as war trophies in 1864.
Seems this “hero” was both an ordained Methodist minister and ardent abolitionist. When his own men balked at attacking a peaceful, sleeping village at daylight, his response was “Kill all the Indians you come across.” Another ministerial quote attributed to Chivington:
Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians! … I have come to kill Indians, and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God’s heaven to kill Indians. … Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits [referring to infants] make lice!
From the Smithsonian article (link below):
This news was greeted with acclaim, as were Chivington’s troops, who returned to Denver displaying scalps they’d cut from Indians (some of which became props in celebratory local plays). But this gruesome revelry was interrupted by the emergence of a very different storyline. Its primary author was Capt. Silas Soule, a militant abolitionist and eager warrior, like Chivington. Soule, however, was appalled by the attack on Sand Creek, which he saw as a betrayal of peaceful Indians. He refused to fire a shot or order his men into action, instead bearing witness to the massacre and recording it in chilling detail.
“Hundreds of women and children were coming towards us, and getting on their knees for mercy,” he wrote, only to be shot and “have their brains beat out by men professing to be civilized.” Indians didn’t fight from trenches, as Chivington claimed; they fled up the creek and desperately dug into its sand banks for protection. From there, some young men “defended themselves as well as they could,” with a few rifles and bows, until overwhelmed by carbines and howitzers. Others were chased down and killed as they fled across the Plains.
Soule estimated the Indian dead at 200, all but 60 of them women and children. He also told of how the soldiers not only scalped the dead but cut off the “Ears and Privates” of chiefs. “Squaws snatches were cut out for trophies.” Of Chivington’s leadership, Soule reported: “There was no organization among our troops, they were a perfect mob—every man on his own hook.” Given this chaos, some of the dozen or so soldiers killed at Sand Creek were likely hit by friendly fire.
Other resources about the Reverend John Chivington and the massacre of Sand Creek: