This week marks the 147th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre, in which nearly 200 members of the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes were murdered.
The soldiers who carried out the atrocity were led by a Methodist minister. This spring, the Methodist Church plans to formally apologize.
The apology is part of a string of “Acts of Repentance,” in which the church is acknowledging wrongdoing to indigenous peoples around the world.
Judy Anderson is the chair of the Sheridan First United Methodist Church’s Native American ministry. She says apologizing is important but that the tribal representatives she’s met with seem to want more tangible help.
“The priorities for them involve preserving the site, education, finding and repatriating the remains at the site, and at some point focusing on reparations,” Anderson said.
She added that her local church is already helping tribes reach those goals and that the formal apology that the church as a whole is delivering may not make much of a difference to them.
The apology will likely involve a special sermon in April. Educational materials about the massacre will also be distributed to individual churches.