FT. MARION PRISONER OF WAR DESCENDANTS UPDATED ON PROJECT PROGRESS.
By John Sipes
The Fort Marion POW web page linked to the Carlisle Indian School home page now has the Sand Creek Massacre list of families the war department listed in 1865.
The link is set up for descendants to add their oral family histories and extended kinship information. The link will update any Sand Creek information coming in.
Plans are to add information from the past 15 years on all repatriations involving Sand Creek from NAGPRA and any historical information on the massacre. It will include activities happening in Colorado and any other activity involving the massacre.
Since the 1868 Lodge Pole Massacre near Cheyenne, known to some as "the Battle of the Washita," involved the same families and bands that suffered at Sand Creek, a link has been added along with the Sand Creek Massacre to present oral histories and military documents. Descendants of the massacres can now add their family stories to the links.
The POW project now has officers and consultants. A flag will be designed and a color guard will be formed. James BlackBear Jr. is designing shields, lances, leggins, moccasins, bone chest plates and other dress items to be worn by the honor guard.
A song for the memorial of the POWs is being made, as well as a memorial song for the Sand Creek/Washita Massacres.
Research adding to the perspective on the ledger art drawings is now in place with elders, ceremonial priests, chiefs, headsmen and family members of the Ft. Marion POWs who drew ledger art. Copies of some work with old photographs of the POWs and chiefs, headsmen and family extended kinshps will be displayed at future benefit dances.
Ruby Bushyhead and I are progressing on genealogies of POWs and Sand Creek descendants' information. Part of the information is now available to descendants.
A proposed caravan following the route the POWs took after being chained and shackled for their journey to St. Augustine and the old fort is taking shape. The caravan will leave old Darlington/Ft. Reno and travel to Ft. Sill, Ft. Smith, Ark., Ft. Leavenworth, Kan; St. Louis, Mo.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Louisville, Ky; Nashville, Tenn; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Altanta, Ga.; Jacksonville, Fla. and on to Ft. Marion at St. Augustine.
A plaque will be set with a memorial blessing at Ft. Marion. Copies of historical information on incarceration of the POWs is being set up to present to the Ft. Marion archives in St. Augustine.
Eight years ago I inquired about the so-called death masks, or molded plaster images made of the faces of the POWs while in prison. These bust images (at least part of them) were housed at the Peabody Museum and now are at the Smithsonian. A plan to find a museum or institutioin to exhibit for descendants the bust images of the POWs is being followed up on, to try to bring the molded images to Oklahoma. Descendants suggested having an exhibit of the ledger art also with the death mask exhibit.
Benefit dances for the 2005 POW gathering will be held in the Clinton and Thomas area and also as near as possible to communities where descendants of the POWs and Sand Creek victims reside. Updates will be presented at each benefit dance to keep descendants informed of all activities involving the project. The benefit dances will be announced later.
Watonga Republican, October 4, 2004.