Ernie Over, WyoToday

HUDSON  – Earlier this spring, on June 23, a delegation from the Northern Arapaho Tribe journeyed to Littleton, in Arapahoe County, Colorado, to sign a Memorandum of  Agreement establishing a formal relationship between the Tribe and the County in the traditional homeland of the Northern Arapaho people. In reciprocation, on Tuesday, the Arapahoe County Commissioners and staff visited the Northern Arapaho for a day-long tour of Tribal facilities and programs. To cap off the day, the officials from Colorado were treated to dinner and a presentation at Svilar’s in Hudson. 

The local Tribe will return to Colorado on October 18th for the annual Sand Creek Massacre Memorial Run with a stop planned in Littleton, but this time with more Tribal members, families, children, officials and, of course, runners and ancestral survivors of the massacre. Master of Ceremonies Ben Ridgley welcomed their neighbors to the evening event and reminded everyone that the Sand Creek Run is not a show, but to remember their ancestors who were killed by the Colorado militia at their camp near Eads. Some 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho women, children and elders were killed in the raid. The site is now a National Historic Site. 

Ridgely said the annual healing run would be held a month earlier than traditional in the middle of October. The annual observance of the  November 29, 1864, massacre is usually held on that date.

The Co-Chair of the Northern Arapaho Business Council, Steven Fasthorse said the generational trauma of the massacre, and other atrocities must never be repeated and he said the agreement was sought “for our children, for the generations yet to be here,” to be a lesson and awareness for the residents not only of the Tribe, but for the residents along the Front Range of Colorado so they know the true history of the land. 

NABC Member Boniface Ridgley said the ties between the Tribe and the County “cannot change the past, but to turn a negative into a positive for the future so people can learn from history, grow and work together.” 

Council member Lee Spoonhunter told the visitors “that it means a lot for you to come and visit us, it’s all about the children to provide a better life for them and we look forward to our partnership.

The CEO of Arapaho First, Ryan Ortiz, said the word Arapaho is more than just a namesake “We are now in partnership, you are our namesake.”

The Ridgley’s nephew, Michael RidgeBear, opened the event with an honor song accompanied by his hand drum. A teacher at Wyoming Indian High School, he recounted the oral history of the tribe and the importance of keeping the stories alive for future generations. The Colorado group visited his classroom at Ethete. 

The Chairwoman of the Arapahoe Commissioners, Nancy Jackson, said the flag flying at the County’s Administration Building in Littleton, “reminds people who were here, it’s a visual strong sign and we share it with pride and knowledge of who our partners are.” She said the commissioners will do a proclamation on November 29th to commemorate Sand Creek. “This is the beginning of a great relationship, we are very inspired by what you are doing  here,” she said. 

Fasthorse closed out the evening said the Tribe looks forward to their next visit to Littleton on the 18th and 19th of October. “I hope our formal relationship develops into many more friendships,” he said. 

Read previous reporting on this story at this