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The 1864 massacre of Cheyenne and Arapaho Native Americans by a Colorado territorial militia regiment is investigated through a genocidal lens, both as a component of the larger destruction of Native American cultures and peoples by U.S. forces and in its own specific economic and ideological context. Using the work of many other scholars in the field of genocide studies and the established definition of genocide provided by the UN Convention on Genocide, this essay initially defines how the gradual dwindling of Native American populations from the onset of European colonization through the next three centuries can be viewed as genocide. Following this groundwork, the question of culpability for the massacre is brought forth and three main categories of suspects are identified: local government and military leaders, the White settler population of Colorado, and the U.S. federal government. All three potential areas of culpability are shown to possess varying degrees of responsibility in effecting the massacre. Upon conclusion of the investigation, there is a brief discussion of possible means of reconciliation accompanied by an examination of the nature of current reconciliation efforts.
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