Today in 1864 at Sand Creek, Colorado, the village of peaceful Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians lead by Chief Black Kettle was attacked by Colorado volunteer militia under command of Colonel John Chivington. 148 Indians, half of them women and children, were slaughtered. The village was burned to complete the atrocity.
Black Kettle secured permission from the commander of nearby Fort Lyon with a guarantee of safety to camp on the site, to hunt for game.
As details became public, Chivington was forced from the military and public opinion ended his political career.
If Black Kettle sounds familiar, he is the same chief who was killed when he relocated his clan to the Washita River and again attacked by soldiers under George Custer 1868.
The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site was dedicated on April 28, 2007.
Today in 1991 on Interstate 5 near Coalinga, a 104 car pileup (including 11 trucks) resulted from a 40 mph dust storm that reduced visibility to zero or near-zero. Two major factors contributed to the mile-long pile up: farmers did not plant and irrigate fields under drought conditions, increasing dry dust; and traffic was heavy from motorists returning from the Thanksgiving holiday.
17 people lost their lives and about 150 were injured. The resulting traffic jam stalled thousands on the road for the whole day.
In December 1978 on the same stretch of highway, 7 deaths and 47 injuries resulted from a similar chain reaction pileup. In December 1977 residents reported an increase in valley fever from the large quantities of dust.
Today in 1929 Richard Byrd and three companions flew over the South Pole, Antarctica, for the first time and returned to their base at Little America. Byrd’s first expedition was in 1928. His fifth and last was in 1955. His planes mapped over 500,000 miles of Antarctica. Byrd died in 1957.
Today in 1942 coffee joined the war rationed commodities. Rationing served two main purposes: fair distribution and priority of material to the military. The first rationed item was gasoline in May 1942.
The problem wasn’t always scarcity of rationed items but compromised transportation and distribution. Fuel could no longer be shipped from the Gulf to the east coast because tankers were easy prey for German submarines.
The rationing also created a thriving black market.
Coffee was released from rationing in July 1943. The last item released from rationing was sugar in June 1947.
Today in 1963 Lyndon Johnson issued Executive Order No. 11130, appointing the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, commonly referred to as the Warren Commission.
During its ten-month investigation, the Warren Commission reviewed reports by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service, Department of State and the attorney general of Texas, listened to the testimony of 552 witnesses and traveled to Dallas several times to visit the site where Kennedy was shot. The commission concluded that Oswald had acted alone and that the Secret Service had made poor preparations for JFK’s visit to Dallas and failed to sufficiently protect him.
The Warren Commission’s conclusion is that Oswald was a “lone gunman.” The circumstances surrounding Kennedy’s death, however, have since given rise to several conspiracy theories involving (among others) the Mafia, Cuban exiles, military leaders and even President Johnson.
Another congressional investigation was conducted in 1979. That committee agreed with the Warren Commission that Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots that killed the president and that the Secret Service failed to protect Kennedy. It did, however, also allow for the possibility that a second gunman might have been involved, but did not pursue the matter.
Rest in peace Natalia Nikolaevna Zachareko, known as Natalie Wood, actor and movie star, who died today in a drowning accident, 1981 at Santa Catalina Island, California, at age 43. Wood was born to immigrant Russian parents July 20, 1938, at San Francisco, California.
Some of Wood’s most memorable roles were the little girl who doubted the existence of Santa Clause in “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947); James Dean’s girlfriend in “Rebel without a Cause” (1955); “Splendor in the Grass” (1961); Maria in “West Side Story” (1961); “Gypsy” (1962); and “Love with the Proper Stranger” (1963). The numerous awards of her acting career include three nominations for an Academy Award. Wood also appeared in a number of TV shows. Her last film is “Brainstorm” which was still being made at the time of her death. It was released in 1983.
Natalie Wood is buried in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery. Her handprints are in cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood.