‘I heard one man say that he had cut a woman’s private parts out and had them for exhibition on a stick. I heard another man say that he had cut the fingers off an Indian to get the rings on the hand . . . I also heard of numerous instances in which men had cut out the private parts of females, and stretched them over the saddle bows, and wore them over their hats, while riding in the ranks.’
This was how first lieutenant James Connor, of the United States Army, described events on 29 November 1864. Colonel J M Chivington led 800 militia troops and cavalry in an attack on the Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples at Sand Creek, Colorado. The unsuspecting occupants of the camp were slaughtered despite raising a white flag.
The troops received a hero’s welcome after butchering up to 500 men, women and children in what a congressional investigation later describefd as a ‘sedulously and carefully planed massacre’. No one was ever brought to justice for it.
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