"The other side of the picture": Social History, Popular Culture, and the Idea of the Sand Creek Massacre

Thumbnail Image


Publication or External Link





Competing schools of thought regarding American imperialism, American constructions of race, Native American experiences, and white settlers’ place within the American West can be seen in non-fiction and fictional accounts of the 1864 Sand Creek massacre in what is now eastern Colorado. Due to a range of factors including the emergence of social history methodology and Cold War politics, a shift in both American historiography and fictional representations of Native Americans and the West can be observed in certain scholarly works and Western films and novels during the period 1945-1970. Debates over the meaning of Sand Creek, often inspired by film representations, also reveal Coloradans’ and Americans’ attempts to reckon with shameful and embarrassing events of the past by contesting notions of race and imperialism presented by Western fiction.