Truth Wins! Part 2

By Mike Bowen, co-author, We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site

The artifacts matter. 

In our book, We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site, we debunk the idea Indians were camped below the bluff where the monument sat—another piece of canceled history. First and foremost, our book is about discovery. It’s about the discovery of the location of the most controversial historical event in Colorado history. 

This is the bluff at the National Park Service Sand Creek site. This was taken in 1970 when Chuck Bowen led his first Sand Creek tour. More information is in our book.

Why did the National Park Service remove the monument? Was it because it stated, “Sand Creek Battle Ground” and not “Sand Creek massacre?” 

Sand Creek was celebrated as a battle in Colorado Territory. The Rocky Mountain News published an article with this headline: Great Battle With Indians! The Savages Dispersed! 500 Indians Killed, The Rocky Mountain News (Daily), December 8, 1864. Multiple other articles had similar headlines. 

It is known that the number of Indians killed was nowhere near 500, it was much less. The official count was 69. You can read more about that in our previous blog, part 1 of Truth Wins. See it here: TruthWinsPart1

The artifacts are the concrete proof the Indians were not camped below that bluff but further up the creek. The massacre story started back east by Lt. Colonel Sam Tappan. He was known as Colonel Chivington’s enemy. Tappan also led the hearings that followed Sand Creek. More about this can be found in our book. 

Each artifact Chuck Bowen found was documented with a photo and the GPS coordinates.

These photos of a three ring Minié ball we recently found at Sand Creek show how we document artifacts. Each artifact is documented with the latitude, longitude and is bagged. As seen below, it has an hole in the top, caused by the tool used to extract it. Over 100 photos of artifacts and maps are in our book.

In August of 1999, the NPS released their site location study guide and documented the finds of nearly 400 pieces. Nearly half of those were 174 unfired musket balls found in a single hole, likely from a pouch a soldier dropped. They were able to find those artifacts due to the assistance of Chuck Bowen. Members of the NPS Sand Creek team met with the Bowens in their home and Chuck let them know where they could find artifacts, based on where he found his. He documented his discovery and where other artifacts could be found on a VHS Camcorder. He played the video for the NPS personnel. Chuck and Sheri Bowen had already discovered well over 3,000 period artifacts. The spot the NPS found their artifacts was about one mile up the creek from the bluff, or a mile below Bowen property. This small ¼ mile-long area is likely the seven tipi Arapaho camp. They were camped at the southernmost part of the village. Most of the village was Cheyenne, and they camped up the creek on what became the Bowen family ranch. 

From our book:

“They (NPS) also found fragments from a spherical case cannonball on the west side of the creek beside the trail road that went to the monument. They didn’t find a single .69 caliber lead ball, yet the case shot was filled with them. Neither did they find a Bormann fuse. There should have been a lot more fragments—they only found four. Did some of the Boy Scouts find them on our cannonball field when they camped at the traditional site in 1937? Perhaps the Scout leader told the boys they couldn’t take them, so they tossed them out along the trail road. I asked the NPS if I could compare their fragments with mine to check if they fit together. If they did, then someone indeed found them on our site. So far, they haven’t accepted my request.”

We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site.

If compared, the NPS shell fragments would likely fit together with the ones Chuck found. Chuck also found lead balls and Bormann fuses at a location on the Bowen family ranch he named the cannonball field, leaving no doubt that is where the cannonballs were fired. It’s incredible how many shell fragments he found. You can find that information in our book. 

The NPS took the artifacts they found from their search and put them on display in May of ‘99 at a Lamar hotel. Their search was an absolute media circus. There were reporters from Denver media/newspaper outlets that trespassed on Bowen property and lied in their stories claiming that period artifacts had not been discovered there. Read all about it in We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site. We debunked them with the physical evidence. These reporters could have taken the time to visit with Chuck and Sheri, but they chose to spread lies instead. For anyone curious, the First Amendment doesn’t allow the media to enter private property without permission. The fake news media has been at it for a long time. 

“Not all of their (NPS) artifacts displayed at the Cow Palace were from the 1860s. I noticed a metal rod with some bends in it and informed NPS lead archaeologist Doug Scott it was a Model T Ford carburetor control rod from the 1920s, definitely not from the 1860s. I knew that part from restoring Model Ts,” Chuck Bowen (We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site).

From their small collection of artifacts they found during that search, the NPS claimed to have found more than the seven tipi Arapaho camp. 

“The NPS claims to have the rifle pits and the village. From their artifact site to where they say the rifle pits were is less than ½ a mile. Bent said the rifle pits were two miles above the village. He also said their villages were two to three miles long. According to Bent’s figures, the total length from the lower end of the village to the rifle pits could be five miles. The ¼ mile-long NPS artifact site plus the ½ mile to their proposed rifle pits is only ¾ of a mile-long—much too small for the village, let alone the rifle pits.”

We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site.

If the NPS wants to continue telling people their historic site is the location of Black Kettle’s village, they need to come forward with the physical evidence, along with the GPS coordinates. It should be public information since Americans’ tax dollars are used to fund their site. Why is there no transparency?

The NPS keeps visitors processing information on an emotional level and steers them away from factually based evidence and common sense. They fail to tell the visitors that several thousand artifacts were found beginning two miles up the creek from the monument and continuing for over seven more miles.”

When the NPS established their historic site, they used three methods: oral history, tribal methods and the George Bent map. Oral history and tribal methods are not credible ways to determine a historic site. And as we discussed in our blog concerning issues with the George Bent map: BentMapBlog. The map was actually created by historian, George Hyde. The map doesn’t have a legend, so when Bent filled in missing details for Hyde, he didn’t know the Bend at the NPS site, which Hyde traced from the 1894 U.S.G.S. topo map, was too small for the village. 

“Oral histories lack in detail and sometimes contradict. One story said there were two Black Kettles—the Chief and his brother (National Park Service Site Location Study, Sand Creek Massacre Project, Volume 1, 2000, 2000, page 205). Another said there were three Black Kettles—the Chief, his nephew, and a cousin (National Park Service Site Location Study, Sand Creek Massacre Project, Volume 1, 2000, page 215). These oral histories have become folklore.”

“Some examples (of tribal methods) include what the badgers say, where the eagles fly, where the coyotes howled, or where they heard someone crying. Some believe that animals and spirits tell them where the battle happened. ‘The feeling I got and the sounds I heard is that the Sand Creek Massacre did happen on the Dawson’s south bend, and the pits are there too,’ Joe Big Medicine said.”

We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site.

NPS archaeologist Dr. Doug Scott and NPS historian Jerome Greene wrote a book in which they claim they found Sand Creek. They found less than 400 artifacts and that was from the help of Chuck Bowen. We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site is the only book based on the discovery of over 4,000 artifacts, truly a preponderance of evidence. Scott and Greene threw the Bowens under the bus and didn’t credit them for their discovery. Their book came after Greene and Scott were in the Bowens’ home at separate times to view artifacts and they commended the Bowens for their work privately. 

The reliable source is the artifacts. 

“But what was by common consent considered to be the tragedy of the day in which company D were concerned, took place on the open plain to the east of the creek, and at least four miles from the village, and resulted in the death of Robert McFarland, a man well and favorably known by the old settlers of Boulder and vicinity, and who was much missed by his comrades…” Morse H. Coffin, The Battle of Sand Creek. 

Chuck found what is likely the spot where Robert McFarland was killed. He found artifacts that fit a skirmish between a soldier and a warrior (Dog Soldier) nearly four miles from the village. There were Indian items such as arrowheads, cone tinklers, coscojo jingles, and a bracelet. There were soldier items such as four mule shoes close together, percussion caps and tins, Minié balls and other bullets, a pocket knife, canteen stopper, cavalry spur, a ring, plain buttons, and eagle buttons.

Artifacts Chuck found at the McFarland site.

The McFarland area is only one spot—there are multiple spots where artifacts were found on the Bowen family ranch that show where fighting took place and where the village was located. 

The artifacts clearly tell a story of an event that took place over several miles. Very little action took place in the village. 

Our book, We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site, includes over 100 photos of artifacts and maps. 

We take a sampling of artifacts to all of our book programs. (Check out this blog here: LasAnimasBookProgram) We have photos of artifacts on our website. (See photos here: Artifacts) There are over 100 photos of artifacts and maps in our book. Where are the NPS artifacts? 

The massacre narrative isn’t supported by physical evidence, it is only based on oral history which isn’t credible. This narrative started out as being politically motivated to attack Colonel Chivington. It’s now used to destroy patriotism. The goal is for people to go away from hearing about Sand Creek at the NPS site and think what terrible things their white American ancestors did. It’s intended to make people hate this country and its history. It tugs at the heartstrings. It’s an emotional story. But it’s not a truthful account. 

We don’t have a dog in this fight. We’re not out to retell history. It’s about getting recognition for this discovery. And we have an obligation to tell the truth. 

The National Park Service Sand Creek personnel promised Chuck and Sheri recognition for the discovery. They would acknowledge and give them kudos privately but would throw them under the bus publicly. You can see a video of NPS archaeologist Dr. Scott in the Bowens’ home identifying artifacts and giving them credit below:

Where is the public acknowledgment of discovery from the National Park Service for the monumental Sand Creek discovery made by Chuck and Sheri Bowen? 

A lie told a thousand times is still a lie. If we have to tell the truth a thousand times, that’s what we’ll do. 

Knowledge is power. 

Check back next week for Truth Wins part 3. 

Learn more about Chuck and Sheri Bowen’s Sand Creek discovery and our book on this website. 

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There are over 100 photos of artifacts and maps in our book, We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site

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