The City of Boulder has begun work to develop a land management plan for its Fort Chambers / Poor Farm property along 63rd Street near Valmont Road. The land – which the city acquired in 2018 and is currently closed to the public – has significant historical, agricultural and ecological values because:
From Aug. 28 to Sept. 16, 1864, more than 100 Boulder County men trained and mobilized into Company D of the Third Colorado Cavalry at Fort Chambers along Boulder Creek east of what is now known as Boulder. Company D later participated in the barbaric massacre of peaceful Tsistsistas (Cheyenne) and Hinono’eino’ (Arapaho) at Sand Creek on Nov. 29, 1864.
The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and once was the Boulder County Poor Farm, a function it served from 1902 through 1918. The property's main home, of iconic Queen Anne Victorian architecture, remains in original condition and is a distinctive architectural style for rural Boulder County.
The property has long been a working agricultural operation, predominantly used for cattle grazing and hay production. It is considered agricultural land of statewide significance. A subset of the land, about 12 acres, is currently under a lease because it has suitable soils and adequate water for diversified vegetable production.
- The gravel ponds, wetlands and cottonwoods on the property support a diverse suite of species, including fish, ducks, painted turtles, and great-horned owls. It also offers migrating waterfowl a year-round strategic stopover and provides habitat for various songbirds.
The City of Boulder recognizes there are community members who are highly interested in this project, including American Indian Tribal Nations, agricultural and local food operators, Indigenous communities and organizations, local historic preservationists, and individuals and groups interested in natural and recreational resources.
OSMP has begun work with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, the Northern Arapaho Tribe and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe – whose people were massacred at Sand Creek – to help provide the foundation for the overall engagement plan and project schedule.
OSMP is starting its process by listening to and incorporating the feedback and guidance of the Arapaho and Cheyenne peoples in Oklahoma, Montana and Wyoming to understand what types of engagement opportunities would best allow them to participate in this project in partnership with the community.
Tribal Nation Discussions
The city recognizes that the history of Fort Chambers and the marker on or near the property are local legacies of American-European colonization that violently exiled Indigenous Peoples from their homelands and are a direct, local connection to the Sand Creek Massacre. The city also acknowledges that the participation of community members in the massacre has caused intergenerational trauma for Indigenous Peoples and Nations.
The City of Boulder has initiated discussions with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, the Northern Arapaho Tribe and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe for this important community project. With the guidance from these Nations – whose people were massacred at Sand Creek on Nov. 29, 1864 – the city seeks to:
- Provide meaningful input into the development of a plan that will help guide the long-term management of the city’s Fort Chambers / Poor Farm property.
- During the planning process, identify the desired long-term relationship Tribal Nations wish to have with the property.
- Consider how best to interpret the property in relation to the Sand Creek Massacre including reinterpreting a historical marker on the property to accurately describe Boulder residents’ role in the Sand Creek Massacre.
- Identify opportunities to integrate broad Indigenous history and stories of the Sand Creek Massacre and its intergenerational harm to Tribal Nations into Boulder history, which is dominated by Euro-American histories.