Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway (update #1)

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As the Sand Creek book now moves forward at lightening speed I thought that the time had arrived to begin updates on its progress.

This blog is the first in what will be a long string of Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway postings that deal with status, thoughts, invitations, and quizzes. Not to worry for I’m certain that most of you aren’t interested in swinging a blade—the winners won’t win a free dueling lesson. They will, however, win something that I hope will be of interest.


Chuck Rankin (right) is editor-in-chief at the University of Oklahoma Press. This image was taken in September 2011 when Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek was presented to the public (Western History Association convention in Oakland, Ca.) for the first time. Chuck gave me the poster behind us, and it has since been framed and hangs in my living room. The reason is simple: This book is the most important book I have written. Charles Gatewood’s involvement with the Apaches was as important as Wynkoop’s with the Cheyennes and Arapahos, but Gatewood’s involvement was limited to his career within the military. Wynkoop’s involvement with Indians extended beyond the military and eventually challenged national politics. Both dared to stand for what they considered right, but Wynkoop’s fall was greater for he dared to take on his entire world. This took guts. Gatewood’s stance also took guts, but to a lesser degree. (photo © Louis Kraft & Chuck Rankin 2011)

Years ago Chuck pitched me to write a book about Sand Creek and I said “no,” that I write about people and not war. Chuck didn’t give up and over time we have worked on a storyline that is good for both of us. Our connection with this story idea didn’t stop there and he has been with me as the book proposal developed. It became a story idea that we both liked and we worked as a team.

Chuck sent an email a week or so back, and it reads in part:

“Sorry for the delay, but I was going to wait until our Faculty Advisory Board [FAB] pronounced the final decision. That occurs August 13, a week from Tuesday. Meanwhile, our Editorial Committee (an internal committee) met on the project … this past week and gave Sand Creek a unanimous and enthusiastic two thumbs up. So, it’s all a green light to FAB, and I expect no problems there whatsoever.

“It’s all good.”

August 13 will move us to the final piece in making the book reality—the contract. This is always touchy as both sides have items they want. As such, it turns into a round-robin of negotiations. I hate to say it, but I enjoy this. … As soon as the contract is signed, Sand Creek and Tragic End of a Lifeway will dominate the next three years of my life. Talks will be limited to my full asking salary and all expenses, Errol & Olivia progress will slow but will move forward (this book is important and will happen). Alas, magazine writing will go on hiatus (am scrambling to complete what I owe). Blogs, however, will continue at a steady pace.

August 13th arrived, and late today the expected news arrived.

Per Chuck Rankin:

“It’s late in the day and I’m headed out the door, but I wanted you to know that the faculty board approved your proposal for a study of Sand Creek today. Congratulations!”

Ladies and gents, all that remains are the contract negotiations. Chuck and I both want this book—we’ll work it out. At this moment I’m one happy frontiersman. The smile is wide. This is a good day to be alive.

5 thoughts on “Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway (update #1)

  1. Wonderful news Louis on the approval of Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. Your fans have been waiting a long time for this book and we will not be disappointed. A very crowded schedule for you, but I know it will be enjoyable and rewarding to you. Wish I could be in Tucson. Good luck as always.

  2. As a fellow unattached historian, Kearny’s Dragoons (Okla. 2016), I was intrigued by your post. I am working on sequel for Oklahoma which deals, in part, with the slaughter of Pomos at Bloody Island in 1850, a series of unknown battles that, in terms of carnage, may well have eclipsed Sand Creek.

    Best of luck on your Sand Creek project.

    • William, I’m sorry about this tardy reply to your comments. Congrats on Kearny’s Dragoons (OU Press 2016), and am certainly wishing you the best on your next book with Oklahoma (my favorite publisher because of the quality of their product). Health and a struggle to deliver the first draft of the Sand Creek manuscript has kept my blog work to a minimum since August 2017. The first 11 chapters have been delivered to Adam Kane and Chuck Rankin; hopefully the final four chapters and the epilogue will be by the end of April 2018.

  3. I read about your book in True West and cannot wait to get a copy. My visits to the sight are most moving in my memory. I have ordered a copy about Wynkoop and can’t wait to learn more about this man that the ranger mentioned when I asked about anyone who opposed to the massacre.

    I guess I really want to know how to get a copy of your new book about Sand Creek.

  4. John, thank you for sharing your feelings about the Sand Creek Massacre National Historical Site in Eads, Colorado. It is sacred ground. … and also in your interest in Ned Wynkoop (and he was an exceptional man, as you’ll see when you read Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek). Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway is currently moving toward publication. Actually it will become available on March 12, 2020. You can preorder it on Amazon now at Again, thank you for your interest in the Cheyennes and Arapahos and their struggle to retain their culture, homeland, and freedom, and the few white men who dared to speak out against what was happening to them during the 1860s.

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