I am Left Hand, Chief of Our People – Arapahoe. We lived near the Shining Mountains, which Americans call Rocky Mountains. Every winter we sheltered in the valley along Boulder Creek. We hunted buffalo and lived in peace with the Sioux and Cheyenne. I learned their languages so we could speak without misunderstanding. When the Americans came, I learned English so I could talk of peace with them. I said to them, “As you come here hunting for gold, then hunt after the gold and let Our People alone."
When the buffalo were made scarce, I traveled east and worked for farmers to learn to grow food and teach Our People to be farmers, or perhaps cattle ranchers. But the land that was promised to us was sold to American settlers. The Cheyenne and Sioux wanted war, but Our People refused the war pipe. We desired only peace. I myself went to the Rocky Mountain News office to tell the Americans that Our People wanted peace.
I wanted to help the Americans. I gave them warning of Cheyenne attacks, I gave back the ponies that were stolen; I myself ransomed American captives and returned them to their homes.
It was the Year of Hunger. We were not allowed onto the plains to hunt, and the buffalo and antelope were gone. Our People, with some Cheyenne - 130 warriors and 350 women and children – surrendered to the American fort called Lyon and gave up our weapons, but the promised food and blankets were not there for us. As “prisoners of war" we were told to camp at Sand Creek under the protection of the fort. We had no food, we were ill, our buffalo were gone, our land was gone, we had nothing - but we would not fight the Americans.
The American Colonel Chivington and 1000 troops with howitzers attacked us at Sand Creek. We raised a white flag, and raised an American flag, but we were shot down around it. I myself, Chief Left Hand, ran out to the soldiers - as many of my braves did - with empty hands and arms outstretched in the sign for peace, but we were shot down. The American traders that were among us were also shot down. Our ponies were stolen, our lodges looted and burned to the ground, the bodies of our dead and wounded were mutilated. Colonel Chivington thought this would make him look like a brave man, a fierce fighter of Our People. This was in November of 1864. I was no longer Chief. I was no longer alive.
“Nothing lives long, only the Earth and the Mountains."
I have left my sign in the town that is named for me. It is not far from where we made our winter camp, near Left Hand Creek. Here is how you will find it:
From the town named for Long's Mountain, ride your pony along the trail called “Diagonal." Its number is 119. Turn left onto the road that bears my Arapahoe name. At Lefthand Corner, turn sharply left again.
Find the Lefthand Grange #9, and tie your pony up nearby. Stand in front of the Lefthand Grange and walk on the left side of the trail, towards the Shining Mountains.
Find an old firehouse. You can read its history on a sign.
Walk further – find “Mercantile 1911" and read its history also. Turn the corner to the left.
Find 80544. It will be on your left.
Turn your back to it, and face the Shining Mountains. You will see a small park, table and seats for resting, a fence, and small building with a porch. Under the porch, I have left my sign for you to find.
“The places that knew them in their pride will know them no more forever."