DENVER – INTERNATIONAL – Colorado Governor Polis has signed an Executive Order rescinding proclamations by Territorial Governor John Evans in 1864 that shamefully targeted and endangered the lives of the American Indians.
Governor Polis was joined by Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera and members of the Southern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe, and the Northern Arapaho Tribe, as well as members of Colorado’s American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
“The 1864 Proclamations were never lawful because they violated established treaty rights and federal Indian law. Further, when Colorado became a state, they never became law, as they were superseded by the Colorado Constitution, United States Constitution, and Colorado criminal code. Yet, the 1864 Proclamations have never been officially rescinded. They therefore remain as a symbol of a gross abuse of executive power during that grave period in our State’s history,” the Executive Order signed by Governor Polis reads.
The 1864 Order gave permission to settlers in Colorado to kill Indigenous people in the state and claim their property.
The 1864 order which had been proclaimed by Colorado’s then second territorial governor, John Evans eventually lead to the Sand Creek massacre.
That brutal assault lead to the deaths of more than 200 Arapaho and Cheyenne people — mostly women, children and elderly.
“For these reasons, I find it necessary to officially finally rescind the shameful 1864 Proclamations through this Executive Order and provide closure for this dark period of our territorial history,” the Executive Order continues.
Today, on the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol, Governor Polis signed the Executive Order during a ceremony that featured an invocation and remarks from Tribal Nations.