What Are The Issues With The “George Bent Map?” 

By Mike Bowen

Co-author, We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site

The map that is commonly called the George Bent map is a document that has been used to place the Sand Creek event at the NPS historic site location. 

There are several issues with this map. 

Fold lines are visibly seen going down the page. The map has clearly been folded to fit into an envelope. 

George Bent wrote letters to historians while working as an Indian agent in Oklahoma, beginning over 30 years after Sand Creek. One of the historians was George Hyde. They often wrote to each other about maps and Hyde had an interest in Sand Creek. 

“The maps I will get to Indians to help me mark out the trails, battle grounds and camping places and also Indian names for these streams,” (Bent to Hyde 5-?-1906). 

Bent was only at Sand Creek for three days, so he got his information from older Indians while working as an Indian agent. During the Sand Creek event, George said he along with a group of Indians ran to a rifle pit over two miles above the top of the village, so he didn’t witness much of what happened that day. 

“No timber on Sand Creek of any kind so I did not change the map because it is correct. Several Cheyennes helped me to mark the different camps as they stood when Chivington attacked it,” (Bent to Thoburn 3-3-1914).

“I marked camps of One Eye, White Antelope, War Bonnet, Black Kettle, Sand Hill, Left Hand, Arapaho camp of 7 lodges. I mark trails of Chivington’s men. All of horse herds were west of the village across Sand Creek,” (Bent to Hyde 4-30-1913)

Hyde sent Bent a number of maps that had the same fold lines. The map not only has fold lines, it has blue and black pencil marks in different handwriting. It is our belief that Bent filled in the map Hyde sent him. As seen above, Hyde would mail Bent maps to complete and Bent would have the Indians help him. 

When Bent saw this map, he didn’t have any context to the size of the bend. Bent already told Hyde their camps were two to three miles long, so he must have believed the map showed a bend that long, (Bent to Hyde 5-3-1906). The bend at the NPS site is only a ½ mile long. Lt. Bonsall measured the length of the village four years after Sand Creek, and he also said the village was over two miles long. This is substantiated by the village artifacts Bowen found. They were scattered for over two miles. See chapter eight of our book to read about Lt. Bonsall and his map.

The map does not have a legend—Bent would have no way of knowing the distance from the upper end to the lower end. He just filled in the map to the best of his memory nearly fifty years after Sand Creek. 

It makes sense Hyde copied the bend in the creek in 1913 from the 1894 U.S.G.S. topo map. Bent never referenced returning to Sand Creek, so to think he made it from memory forty-nine years after the event with such detail seems absurd. To understand why Hyde considered that bend at all, see chapter two in our book.

Understanding the context of the map helps prove the real Sand Creek site to be at the Lost Sand Creek Site on the Bowen family ranch. All of the artifacts Chuck found were starting about two miles up the creek from where the monument sat at the NPS site. The Superintendent of the NPS Sand Creek team told Chuck in the late 90s he had substantial evidence and promised him they would tell his story of discovery so people could make up their minds about Sand Creek. The NPS lead archaeologist was in Chuck and Sheri’s home and identified many artifacts found at the Bowens’ Lost Sand Creek Site. He even identified a piece of a cannonball fragment. It was documented on a VHS camcorder and we will be posting that video soon. See our book to read about the promise the NPS made for Chuck discovering the true Sand Creek location.

No period artifacts have been found below the bluff at the NPS site, where we’re told the event took place. No bullets, no battlefield. 

The Bowens’ discovery of over 4,000 artifacts doesn’t simply take the same Sand Creek story and put it in a different location, it changes the story.

How is the story changed? Check that out in our book and learn more about the incredible discovery of the true Sand Creek site here:

Get our book here: Click the Buy the Book tab in the top right of the page or you can also get our book here: WeFoundTheLostSandCreekSite

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