Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



John Evans, History, Sand Creek Massacre, University of Denver


"Universities are dedicated to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge. They are conservators of humanity's past. They cherish their own pasts, honoring forbears with statues and portraits and in the names of buildings. To study or teach at a [university] is to be a member of a community that exists across time, a participant in a procession that began centuries ago and that will continue long after we are gone. If an institution professing these principles cannot squarely face its own history, it is hard to imagine how any other institution, let alone our nation, might do so."

-Report of the Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, page 6, 2006.

The University of Denver was founded in 1864 by John Evans. John Evans had been appointed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 to be the second territorial governor of Colorado. He served in that capacity until 1865.

This committee is inquiring into the nature of John Evans’ involvement in the political and economic processes that led to the appropriation of Indian Lands in Colorado and, more specifically, to the 1864 killing of Cheyenne and Arapahoe villagers at Sand Creek. It consists of faculty and staff from DU and other institutions. Given the impending 150-year anniversaries of the Sand Creek Massacre and DU’s founding, it is appropriate to evaluate John Evans’ place in the university’s history and the ways in which we recognize his contributions.

The committee is working in tandem with a similarly constituted committee at Northwestern University, which John Evans co-founded in 1853. The NU and DU committees will coordinate research and share information. The DU committee will generate a report of our findings and a set of recommendations for actions that the university should take as a result of our report.