Boulder hosts the area’s first residents to mark a modern anniversary

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BOULDER, Colo. – Northern Arapaho Tribal members will be welcomed to their traditional lands in “Coming Back Home” events Aug. 7 – 8 as part of this city’s year-long Sesquicentennial Celebration.

The event “will give Boulder citizens an opportunity to demonstrate the friendship that characterized early contacts between the Arapaho Tribe and Euro-American gold-seekers,” states a press release issued by event planners.

It is one of a number of events over the years between the University of Colorado, the city of Boulder, and others who have collaborated with members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe over shared history.

Courtesy Colorado Historical Society Northern Arapaho members Sherman Sage (left), Gun Griswold and Tom Crispin, an interpreter, in 1914 helped to identify tribal landmarks in what later became Rocky Mountain National Park. A tour of the park by Northern Arapaho elders is part of Boulder’s Sesquicentennial Celebration.

“Bands of the Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians lived in Colorado until November 1864 when the Sand Creek Massacre, and its aftermath, drove them from the territory,” the release notes.

A Sand Creek theme will be part of two events, the first a performance Aug. 7 by Northern Arapaho members of the Sand Creek Band playing contemporary American Indian country and rock music.

The second event, a three-day, 200-mile Sand Creek Massacre Spiritual Healing Run, will end with ceremonies Aug. 8 in downtown Boulder after a journey from the site of the massacre in southeastern Colorado, where state militia killed some 400 Cheyenne and Arapaho members.

The Run echoes the annual Sand Creek Massacre Spiritual Healing Run/Walk held by Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal members around Nov. 30, the anniversary of the massacre, beginning at the massacre site and ending at the state capitol in Denver.

Participants in the run will stop in nearby Denver to tour the Tribal Paths exhibit at the Colorado History Museum, which keeps the eagle staff of the annual November Run/Walk.

The Healing Run is “dedicated to the people who have provided input into the Sand Creek Massacre Project, which began in 1999 when an Act of Congress directed the National Park Service to determine the location and extent of the Sand Creek Massacre site,” the release notes.

“After eight years of intense historical research, an archeological survey, the collection of oral histories from massacre descendents, and government-to-government consultation with the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes, the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site was dedicated on April 27, 2007.”

The Northern Arapaho were settled with Eastern Shoshone on what is now the Wind River Reservation in central Wyoming. The Northern Cheyenne were placed on a reservation in Montana and the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho were removed to Oklahoma.

Local officials will welcome members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe and the Southern Band, now included in the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, Aug. 8 at the Boulder County Courthouse, where a color guard will initiate a day of dancing and booths that will include American Indian arts, crafts and food.

Storytelling by Northern Arapaho Tribal members and others will be featured, including William C’Hair, Northern Arapaho author and cultural resource specialist, Teresa Hughes, Northern Arapaho language instructor, and Yolanda Hvizdak, Native activist.

Other events include a tour of Rocky Mountain National Park for elders of the Northern Arapaho Tribe sponsored by the NPS and the University of Colorado Center for the Study of Indigenous Languages of the West.

A recently published book by one of the tour leaders, CU Professor Andrew Cowell, “The Arapaho Language,” was written in collaboration with Alonzo Moss Sr. of the Northern Arapaho Language and Culture Commission.

In addition to Boulder Sesquicentennial Celebration, event sponsors include Downtown Boulder Inc., whose “Noon Tune” series will feature the performance of the Sand Creek Band.